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Vol. I. 



S. ** ' 


[James Abram Garfield 




DDCim 4!& 

CAirriON Please handle this volume with care. 

The paper is very brittle. 




^MES Abram Garfield 




VOL. I. 

' . 





Copyright, 1S8S, 
By Lucretia R. Garfield. 

Ai/ rights reserved. 

Univbrsity Prbss: 
John Wilson and Son, Cambridge. 

{ntet: folta frttctuK. 


FOR several years President Garfield had looked 
forward to a time when he would be able to revise 
and publish such of his speeches and writings as he 
deemed worthy of a place in American literature. It 
was a purpose that lay near his heart. What he would 
have selected for publication, and how far he would have 
carried revision, can now be only matters of speculation. 
His untimely death, which defeated so many other plans 
and dashed so many other hopes, prevented the realiza- 
tion of this fond anticipation, and, through the partiality 
of Mrs. Garfield, devolved the editorship of his works 
upon me. An account of the manner in which I. have 
discharged the trust seems called for. 

The works were to be limited to matter that had been 
published in its authors lifetime. All letters, manu- 
scripts, etc. were reserved for future use. As to the han- 
dling of this material, it should be said, first of all, that no 
editor could have the same rights and powers over it that 
belonged to him who produced it. Equally obvious are 
the principles that should govern the selection of mate- 
rial to be used. Everything of real value that deals with 
questions of permanent interest, everything that is a 
material part of the history of the times, and everj^thing 

viii PREFACE. 

that has a considerable personal interest flowing from 
its author, as illustrating the man, should obviously be 
included in the authorized edition of his Works. It 
has seemed best not to draw upon such material as 
exists produced before 1863, but to leave that to the 
biographer, and to begin these Works with Mr. Gar- 
field s entry into Congress. Accordingly these two vol- 
umes are made up wholly of matter which, in some 
form, has already been given to the public. They do 
not by any means contain everything that President 
Garfield said and wrote which has been published ; but 
they give a full measure both of the quantity and qual- 
ity of his published thought. All of his utterances had 
life in them ; but it is believed that everything, or nearly 
everything, is here presented, the value and interest of 
which entitle it to admission to the popular edition of 
his works. If anything has been omitted that should 
have been included, it is owing either to the editors 
having overlooked it, or to a false judgment of its value. 

The larger number of these speeches, addresses, and 
papers, making due allowance for needed verbal correc- 
tions,, appear as they came from their authors hand. 
From some of them portions have been omitted, since 
they would but load down the work. These portions 
may be divided into two classes ; namely, passages that 
were of merely local or temporary interest, and passages 
that contain what has been as well or better said in 
some other place. Perhaps some critics will say that 
the rule of exclusion, under both these heads, might have 
been carried further with advantage. The following re- 
marks will, therefore, be pertinent. 

First More or less matter has been retained that is 
not now and will never again be of immediate practical 


utility. If this is not true of whole compositions, it cer- 
tainly is of parts of compositions. Some of the statis- 
tical tables, and the analyses of national expenditures 
found in the speeches on Appropriations, may be in- 
stanced. But this matter should obviously be retained ; 
first, because it is a part of the history of the times ; and 
secondly, because it is part of the history of President 
Garfield's mind and work, and will well illustrate his 
mental habit and method of discussion. 

Second. It has been found impossible wholly to pre- 
vent repetition and overlapping. Mr. Garfield was emi- 
nently a didactic statesman. He was a teacher both of 
the National Legislature and of the public. He discussed 
the same subject in many different places and at many 
different times. He often discussed the same subject — 
as Resumption of Specie Payments, and the Tariff — 
in the House of Representatives, and before popular 
assemblies. Naturally, therefore, perhaps it may be 
said necessarily, his speeches and writings contain fre- 
quent repetitions, not only of facts and arguments, but 
also of diction and illustration. The widest as well 
as the most frequent overlapping is found in his Con- 
gressional speeches and popular addresses on political 
subjects which were delivered at about the same time. 
In these volumes, notwithstanding a constant effort to 
reduce repetition to a minimum, repetitions will still be 
found. Touching these it may be said that they could 
not be omitted without impairing the integrity of the 
composition, or weakening the force of the related parts 
of the speech or paper. The reader will not however, 
weary of these passages. He will find the same subject 
coming up for discussion again and again ; but he will 
find that, even upon those subjects which President 


Garfield discussed most frequently and fully, the mat- 
ter is almost always new and the diction fresh. And 
even when he finds facts, arguments, or quotations that 
he has met before, he will find them in new combina- 
tions and answering new purposes. 

Some readers may perhaps say that the historical 
illustration of the text, at least in some cases, is exces- 
sive. Such readers should remember, first, that the 
works of our older statesmen have often suffered from 
lack of such illustration ; secondly, that the subjects 
with which President Garfield dealt, particularly in the 
early part of his public life, are rapidly receding ; and, 
thirdly, that no adequate life of him has yet appeared, 
or is likely to appear for some time to come. Con- 
cerning the second of these points, — the rapidity with 
which events in our age pass into history, — a few wordis 
may well be spoken. As long ago as Februarj', 1876, 
he himself touched one phase of this subject. " More 
than a million votes," said he, " will be cast at the next 
Presidential election by men who were schoolboys in 
their primers when the great financial measures of 1862 
were adopted ; and they do not realize how fast or how 
far the public mind has drifted. The logbook of this 
extraordinary voyage cannot be read too often." In 
fact, it is not extravagant to say that there are hun- 
dreds of thousands of young Americans to-day who 
know no more of the events of 1862 than they do of 
the events of 1776, if indeed they know so much. If 
the historical commentary is too full for some readers, 
it is not for others ; and for none will it be too full in 
the next generation. 

Much labor has been bestowed upon the quotations, 
both to verify them, and to give the appropriate refer- 


ences. Occasionally the matter quoted was ephemeral, 
and search for the original was profitless ; but in all other 
cases no reasonable effort has been spared to track 
the quotation to its source. When it is considered that 
the author's literary habits were rather those of a public 
man than of a man of letters, and when it is remem- 
bered that his speeches were often prepared and deliv- 
ered under great stress both of time and labor, it will 
not appear strange that in many cases he has left no 
references to the originals he has quoted, and that they 
cannot readily be found. 

The question of arrangement has been carefully con- 
sidered. This question was. Shall the topical or the 
chronological method be followed.'^ Each course had 
great and obvious advantages. Finally, however, the 
chronological order, with departures few and slight, was 
adopted, as doing best justice both to the history of 
the author's mind and to the history of the country. 
Those who wish to study his utterances upon special 
subjects in group can, with the aid of the Contents and 
the Index, readily group them for themselves. 

The pamphlet editions of speeches and addresses 
have been followed in all cases, where such editions 
exist, to the exclusion of the reports found in news- 
papers, and in the Congressional Globe and Record. 

The thanks of both Mrs. Garfield and the editor are 
tendered to Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin, & Co., publishers 
of the Atlantic Monthly, to Mr. A. T. Rice, publisher 
of the North American Review, and to A. J. Johnson 
& Co., publishers of Johnson s New Universal Cyclo- 
paedia, for their permission, so courteously granted, to 
include in these works the articles credited to their 
respective publications. 


It has been stated, or at least implied, above, that 
everything heretofore published that has real value has 
been included in these Works. One exception should be 
made. There is a series of Minor Speeches, eminently 
characteristic of their author, most of them delivered 
between his nomination by the Chicago Convention and 
his inauguration as President, which are well worthy of 
collection and publication, but which can hardly be ad- 
mitted, with propriety, to his Works. These have been 
carefully prepared for publication by Col. A. F. Rock- 
well, of the United States army, and they will shortly 
appear in a worthy form, from the press of the Century 

The preceding explanation made, I now ask leave to 
transcribe some words of characterization spoken by the 
Hon. James G. Blaine before the House of Representa- 
tives and the Senate, in the hall of the House, Febru- 
ary 27, 1882, and then to add some remarks of my own. 

** As a parliamentary orator, as a debater on an issue squarely 
joined, where the position had been chosen and the ground laid 
out, Garfield must be assigned a very high rank. More, per- 
haps, than any man with whom he was associated in public life, 
he gave careful and systematic study to public questions, and 
he came to every discussion in which he took part with elabo- 
rate and complete preparation. He was a steady and indefati- 
gable worker. Those who imagine that talent or genius can 
supply the place or achieve the results of labor will find no en- 
couragement in Garfield's life. In preliminary work he was apt, 
rapid, and skilful. He possessed in a high degree the power 
of readily absorbing ideas and facts, and, like Dr. Johnson, had 
the art of getting from a book all that was of value in it by a 
reading apparently so quick and cursory that it seemed like a 
mere glance at the table of contents. He was a pre-eminently 
fair and candid man in debate, took no petty advantage, stooped 
to no unworthy methods, avoided personal allusions, rarely ap- 
pealed to prejudice, did not seek to inflame passion. He had 

PREFACE. xiii 

a quicker eye for the strong point of his adversary than for his 
weak point, and on his own side he so marshalled his weighty 
arguments as to make his hearers forget any possible lack in 
the complete strength of his position. He had a habit of stating 
his opponent's side with such amplitude of fairness and such 
liberality of concession, that his followers often complained that 
he was giving his case away. But never in his prolonged par- 
ticipation in the proceedings of the House did he give his case 
away, or fail, in the judgment of competent and impartial listen- 
ers, to gain the mastery 

" Those unfamiliar with Garfield's industry, and ignorant of 
the details of his work, may, in some degree, measure them by 
the annals of Congress. No one of the generation of public 
men to which he belonged has contributed so much that will 
be valuable for future reference. His speeches are numerous, 
many of them brilliant, all of them well studied, carefully 
phrased, and exhaustive of the subject under consideration. 
Collected from the scattered pages of ninety royal octavo vol- 
umes of Congressional Records, they would present an invalu- 
able compendium of the political history of the most important 
era through which the national government has ever passed. 
When the history of this period shall be impartially written, 
when war legislation, measures of reconstruction, protection of 
human rights, amendments to the Constitution, maintenance of 
public credit, steps towards specie resumption, true theories 
of revenue, may be reviewed, unsurrounded by prejudice and 
disconnected from partisanism, the speeches of Garfield will be 
estimated at their true value, and will be found to comprise 
a vast magazine of fact and argument, of clear analysis and 
sound conclusion. Indeed, if no other authority were accessi- 
ble, his speeches in the House of Representatives from Decem- 
ber, 1863, to June, 1880, would give a well-connected history 
and complete defence of the important legislation of the sev- 
enteen eventful years that constitute his parliamentary life. 
Far beyond that, his speeches would be found to forecast many 
great measures yet to be completed, — measures which he 
knew were beyond the public opinion of the hour, but which 
he confidently believed would secure popular approval within 
the period of his own lifetime, and by the aid of his own 
efforts." 1 

* Eulogy on James Abram Garfield, (Boston, James R. Osgood & Co.,) pp. 
28-30, and 35-37. 


President Garfield's national political life began with 
his entry into the House of Representatives, Decern- 
ber 7, 1863, when he was thirty-two years old. It will 
heighten one's appreciation of these volumes, and give 
weight to the words of Mr. Blaine just quoted, to take a 
view of his mental equipment for a legislator, and of 
some of the larger conditions under which these Works 
were produced. 

He graduated at the age of twenty-five, with so much . 
of general training and culture, and more of general 
reading, than was implied by a first honor in a Massa- 
chusetts college in 1856. He continued a constant and 
general reader to the end of his life. From 1856 to 
1 86 1 he was a laborious teacher in an academical school. 
His experience there — not now referring to the admin- 
istrative but to the strictly didactic function — was of 
great value to him in his public life. His admirable 
power of rhetorical exposition, both as a forensic and as 
a popular orator, in so far as it was the result of art, is 
largely traceable to his teacher experience. During the 
same years he was in constant practice as a public 
speaker on a great variety of subjects, — education, sci- 
ence, literature, politics, and religion, — and this practice 
was of equal service. He read law with a fellow-teacher 
at Hiram, and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1861. 
In i860 and 1861 he served a term in the Ohio Senate, 
and, although the youngest, he was one of the most 
active and influential members on the floor. One or 
two short speeches made in the Senate, which have been 
preserved, and a larger number of committee reports 
written by him, show that the Ohio Senator needed but 
growth and maturity to become the national Represent- 
ative. In the college literary society he had given much 


attention to parliamentary law ; he improved the oppor- 
tunity that the Senate gave to add to his knowledge, 
both theoretical and practical ; so that he entered the 
House of Representatives a good general parliamen- 

Edward Gibbon, while bemoaning his service in the 
Hampshire militia, said it was of much service to him 
in composing his History of the Decline and Fall of the 
Roman Empire.^ Much more was President Garfield's 
service as a soldier of value to him as a legislator and 
statesman. It made him thoroughly acquainted with 
the organization and needs of the army, and with the 
whole military side of the Rebellion. It caused him to 
reflect the more deeply upon its political side, and to 
revolve more carefully in his mind the whole question of 
reconstruction. More than this, his military service 
added very greatly to his knowledge of men and of pub- 
lic business, and thereby much increased his mental and 
moral equipment for his civil career. Collateral ques- 
tions growing out of the war also engaged his attention 
somewhat : thus, in his paper entitled " The Currency 
Conflict," he speaks of studying finance with Secretary 
Chase in the autumn of 1862 (while he was in Washing- 
ton awaiting orders, and serving on a court-martial). 

The only specific political question of the first magni- 
tude that he had mastered before the war mutterines 
were heard, had become obsolete when he entered 
Congress. " Slavery in the Territories " was the great 
question that the Republican party pressed upon the 

1 " The discipline and evolutions of a modern battalion gave me a clearer notion 
of the phalanx and the legion ; and the captain of the Hampshire Grenadiers (the 
reader may smile) has not been useless to the historian of the Roman Empire/' — 
Memoirs^ etc. 


intellect and the conscience of the nation, from its organ- 
ization in 1854 to its triumph in the Presidential election, 
of i860. "What is the constitutional authority of Con- 
gress over the domestic institutions of a Territory?" was 
a question to be answered partly in view of the nature 
and scope of the national Constitution, and partly in view 
of the legislative precedents from 1787 onwards. This 
was an interesting and vivifying line of study and dis- 
cussion. Parallel with it ran the slavery question as a 
whole ; for, although the Republican party denied to 
themselves any right or purpose to interfere with slavery 
in the States, Republican orators and writers did not con- 
fine themselves, in discussion, to " Slavery in the Territo- 
ries,*' but dwelt also upon the economical, political, and 
moral features of slavery itself. Before the year i860, 
although following other pursuits than politics, Mr. Gar- 
field had possessed himself of all the points in that line 
of discussion, — the Ordinance of 1787, the Missouri Com- 
promise of 1820, the Wilmot Proviso of 1846, the Kansas- 
Nebraska Act of 1854, the Dred Scott Decision of 1857, 
" Squatter Sovereignty," together with the points of infe- 
rior interest. He was a full master of the Republican 
argument, and had stated it many times over with much 
power and eloquence. The Republican party applied 
its cherished principle to the Territories in the act of 
June 19, 1862, and then only slavery in the States re- 
mained to be dealt with. 

Republican opposition to slavery before i860, as an- 
nounced in platforms, was an assertion of the right and 
duty of Congress to prohibit its spread. This assertion 
the Democratic party opposed, at first on old-fashioned 
State Rights grounds ; but afterwards the party divided 
into those who asserted that the Constitution of its own 

PREFACE. xvii 

force carried slavery into the Territories, that Congress 
had nothing to do with it, and that the people .of the 
Territory even could not prohibit it until they came to 
form a State government, and those who asserted that 
the whole question was left to the people of the Terri- 
tory, and that they could prohibit it either by a law of 
their local legislature or in the constitution of their 
State government (which was the " Squatter Sovereign- 
ty " doctrine of Mr. Douglas). The contest was, there- 
fore, a revival, in a new form, of the old contest of na- 
tional and local powers. Many Republicans of that day 
had been brought up in the Democratic party, but the 
original and the only original Republican doctrine readily 
assimilated with what are called " national views " of the 
Federal government. As a matter of course the war 
gave the party a strong impulse in the same direction. 
How different the spirit and the course of the party 
would have been had there been no war, is a curious 
subject of speculation. Here it suffices to say that Mr. 
Garfield's political training up to 1861, as well as the 
native cast of his mind, gave him a predisposition in 
favor of Nationalism, and this predisposition the Rebel- 
lion greatly strengthened. 

The Southern threat of Secession, which so long hung 
over the country, was not seriously regarded by Repub- 
licans until the winter of 1860-61. They did not believe 
there was going to be a war until war began; and then 
their most philosophical statesman, Mr. Seward, said it 
would be over in ninety days. But just so soon as the 
Southern demonstrations following the election of Pres- 
ident Lincoln began to impress the North, — and still 
more as time wore on and words gave way to blows, — 
the whole Northern people, and especially Republicans, 

VOL. I. b 

xviii PREFACE. 

fell to studying the origin, history, and nature of our 
national institutions, just as the American Colonists 
on the verge of the Revolution, according to Edmund 
Burke, fell to reading Blackstone's Commentaries and 
other books of law.^ " How did the Union originate?" 
" What is the history of the Constitution ? " " What is 
the nature of the Federal bond ? " at once became com- 
mon questions of absorbing interest. It was not suffi- 
cient to oppose physical resistance to Secession ; it must 
be shown that Secession had no support in either con- 
stitutional or natural law. Now all patriotic men began 
to cast about for the real elements of strength in the 
National Constitution, and for the lessons for the hour 
which real statesmen had taught. Mr. Garfield shared 
in this impulse to the full, and was at once led into 
the middle of a field of political reading and thought 
which before he had barely touched. 

For more than a half-century the country had been 
moving steadily in one direction. Lord Macaulay wrote 
to an American in 1857, "There can, I apprehend, be no 
doubt that your institutions have, during the whole of 
the nineteenth century, been constantly becoming more 
Jeffersonian and less Washingtonian."^ "It is surely 
strange," he added, "that, while this process has been 
going on, Washington should have been exalted into a 
god, and Jefferson degraded into a demon." The Eng- 
lish lord seems to have understood that Jefferson was 

^ " I have been told by an eminent bookseller, that in no branch of his business, 
after tracts of popular devotion, were so many books as those on the law exported 
to the Plantations. The Colonists have now fallen into the way of printing them 
for their own use. I hear that they have sold nearly as many of Blackstone's Com- 
mentaries in America as in England." — Speech on Conciliation with America, 
March 22, 1775. 

^ Letter to H. S. Randall, Esq., dated Holly Lodge, Kensington, January 18, 
1857. See Appendix to Harper's edition of Trevelyan's " Life and Letters of Lord 


the foil to Washington. Indeed, he says his Ameri- 
can correspondent intimated as much to him. But an 
intelligent American need not be told that Jefferson 
was rather the foil to Alexander Hamilton. Jefferson 
believed in democracy and in a confederation; Hamil- 
ton favored class influence and representation, but be- 
yond any man of his time grasped and set forth the 
idea of Nationalism. It was in the very beginning of 
the war that the people of the North, as never before, 
came to appreciate the fact stated by Guizot : " Ham- 
ilton must be classed among the men who have best 
known the vital principles and fundamental conditions of 

a government There is not in the Constitution 

of the United States an element of order, of force, of 
duration, which he has not powerfully contributed to 
introduce into it, and to cause to predominate." In the 
year 1880, Mr. Garfield thus spoke of Hamilton : — 

" I cannot look upon this great assemblage, and these old 
veterans that have marched past us, and listen to the words 
of welcome from our comrade who has just spoken, without 
remembering how great a thing it is to live in this Union and 
be a part of it. This is New York ; and yonder toward the 
Battery, more than a hundred years ago, a young student of 
Columbia College was arguing the ideas of the American Revo- 
lution and American Union against the un-American loyalty to 
monarchy of his college president and professors. By and by 
he went into the patriot army, was placed on the staff of Wash- 
ington, to fight the battles of his country, and while in camp, 
before he was twenty-one years old, upon a drum-head he wrote 
a letter which contained every germ of the Constitution of the 
United States. That student, soldier, statesman, and great 
leader of thought, Alexander Hamilton, of New York, made 
this Republic glorious by his thinking, and left his lasting im- 
press upon this the foremost State of the Union. And here on 
this island, the scene of his early triumphs, we gather to-night, 
soldiers of the new war, representing the same ideas of union, 


having added strength and glory to the monument reared by 
the heroes of the Revolution." * 

Mr. Henry Cabot Lodge says the ideas which JefiFerson 
and Hamilton embodied have, in their conflicts, made 
up the history of the United States. The democratic 
principles of the one and the national principles of the 
other have prevailed, and have sway to-day throughout 
the length and breadth of the land. " But if we go a 
step further," he says, " we find that the great Federalist 
has the advantage. The democratic system of Jefferson 
is administered in the form and on the principles of 
Hamilton." ^ This is propounded as the point towards 
which American political thought tends, — Democracy 
and Nationalism. The expression well describes Mr. 
Garfield's own h^bit of political thought. He had no 
sympathy with Hamilton's aristocratical principles; he 
was as pure a democrat as JefiFerson himself; but he 
wanted the democratic system administered in the form 
and on the principles of Nationalism. The thoughts of 
Hamilton had great influence upon his mind and work. 
His eye never wandered from the pole-star of nationality. 
He loved Ohio, but he loved the Union more. As he 
put it, he rendered allegiance to Washington, not by the 
way of Columbus, but in an air line. His country, its 
union, its greatness, its purity, its honor, its flag, was 
with him an absorbing passion, — as much so as with 
Hamilton himself. Hence it is pertinent to add that he 
had a sort of literary acquaintance with this great states- 
man before the war began ; but his real recognition of 
his greatness, and of the strength of his political doc- 
trines, dated from certain studies in the first half of the 

* Speech to the " Boys in Blue/' delivered in New York, August 6, 1880. 
> Alexander Hamilton, p. 283 (Boston, 1882). 


year 1861. Accordingly, he entered Congress, and be- 
fore that the army, not simply an ardent patriot, but a 
student of history and politics, rooted and grounded in 
those elements of order, of force, and of duration which, 
according to the distinguished Guizot, Hamilton con- 
tributed so powerfully to introduce into the Constitution, 
and to cause to predominate. 

From the foregoing summary it is easy to see what 
was Mr. Garfield's mental equipment for a legislator. 
The first and most valuable part of it was general, — 
his native ability, his general education, his mental 
habits, the training that he had received in educa- 
tion, war, and politics, and his general views of our 
American governments. National and State, though 
these views, as a matter of course, he had not carried 
out and applied to many specific questions. More nar- 
rowly, he had mastered the Slavery question, upon 
which, beyond supporting the Thirteenth Amendment, 
he was never called to legislate ; he had a full grasp of 
both the military and political sides of the Rebellion, 
and had partially thought out some of the other ques- 
tions that were so closely connected with the war. This 
is about all. At this day there is nothing risked in say- 
ing that the late President s most valuable public service 
was in the field of economical discussion and legislation : 
Currency, the Banks, Taxation, Appropriations, Resump- 
tion, and related topics. The greatness and value of this 
service is now largely recognized by the public; but it 
will be surprising if the publication of these Works 
does not greatly strengthen that recognition. Nor is 
there anything risked in saying that, when he entered 
Congress, he had given no systematic study to any of 
these subjects. His grasp of economical science was 

xxii PREFACE. 

then little more than it was when he left college, al- 
though his general reading had given him a wider range 
of knowledge. The great knowledge of these subjects, 
the sound conclusions, the just principles, of which these 
volumes are such striking evidences, were gathered and 
wrought out after his Congressional life began. The 
same may be said of nearly all the subjects that are here 
discussed. That he not only was able to master these 
great and difficult financial questions, but was always 
able to defend sound principles with new arguments, 
fresh information, and original illustrations, at the same 
time that he was dealing with the other questions, both 
many and difficult, of those eventful years, as well as 
maintaining a lively interest in all public questions and 
bearing a part in the discussion of many of them, is 
at once a striking proof of the greatness of his powers, 
of the thoroughness of his training, and of the zeal and 
conscientiousness with which he devoted himself to his 
legislative duties. 

With the mental equipment now described, Mr. Gar- 
field entered the national House of Representatives. 
He at once took an active part in the debates, as the 
Index of the Congressional Globe for the first session of 
the Thirty-eighth Congress shows. The four speeches 
whose titles are found at the head of the Contents of 
this first volume were made that session. This activity 
was kept up, with some fluctuation of course, through 
the twenty-two sessions that he sat in Congress. It will 
be observed that, with a few exceptions, they are his 
major Congressional speeches that are presented in 
these Works. Only a few of the far greater number 
of minor speeches have been drawn out of the Globe and 
Record ; and these have been given because they deal 

PREFACE. xxiii 

with important subjects, and because they show the 
speaker's powers in such efforts. Of their kind, these 
minor speeches are as perfect as the greater and better- 
known speeches upon which his reputation as a debater 
rests. Nor must it be supposed that in Congress he was 
simply a speech-maker; he was always a conscientious 
and laborious committeeman. Then the reader must 
remember that every year, from 1864 to 1879, with the 
single exception of 1867 when he was in Europe, he 
took an active part in each political canvass ; his ser- 
vices were in wide request in Ohio and in other States, 
and he sometimes made as many as sixty or seventy 
addresses in a single campaign. For a number of years 
he began his annual canvass with a carefully prepared 
speech, which was commonly printed from his own man- 
uscript. This was of the nature of a report to his con- 
stituents, or to the people of Ohio, of the political history 
of the year, and especially of legislation. The campaign 
addresses from 1866 to 1872 inclusive constitute this 
series. By the side of these lines of activity must be 
mentioned his not inconsiderable law practice. In all, 
his cases in the United States courts were some thirty in 
number, many of them involving new and difficult ques- 
tions, which demanded much time and study for their 
mastery. The three legal arguments that were fully re- 
ported have a place in these volumes. With all the 
rest, he was a generous respondent to calls to literary, 
ceremonial, and commemorative occasions, and a not 
unfrequent contributor to the press. Still, the occa- 
sional addresses and papers that are here brought to- 
gether were the intellectual recreations of a man whose 
work lay in other fields. 
The foregoing remarks have not been made simply to 

xxiv PREFACE. 

generalize the labor that produced these works, and to 
enlarge the reader's view of this busy man and life. It 
is hoped that, so far as they go, they will set President 
Garfield boldly and clearly before the eye of the reader. 
Besides, they have an obvious bearing upon the works 
themselves. The reader must remember the magnitude 
of the labor that President Garfield performed, and the 
conditions under which he performed it. These com- 
positions are not the essays of a scholar, working at his 
leisure in his library ; they are, with few exceptions, the 
contributions to current discussion of a very busy man, 
who spoke on living questions because he had some- 
thing to say. He had extraordinary power in the organ- 
ization of thought, shown both in the excellence and 
rapidity of his execution ; but many of these speeches 
were made under circumstances that taxed his power 
to the utmost. He was a hard reader, had a retentive 
memory, and was careful to keep his knowledge within 
reach ; but, as a matter of course, he often had to use 
new information that was hastily gathered, or old infor- 
mation that needed further verification. 

Mr. A. R. Spofford, the accomplished head of the Li- 
brary of Congress, who well knew Garfield's mental hab- 
its, has said, in an admirable paper on his intellectual 
character and methods : " He was never chary of asking 
assistance in laying out the materials for any work he 
had to do. He made no mystery of what he was about ; 
concealed nothing of his purposes or methpds; drew 
freely upon his friends for suggestions ; used his family, 
secretaries, and librarians to look up authorities, or, if 
he found the time, he looked them up himself. When 
he had examined the field as thoroughly as he was 
able, he organized his subject in his own mind, and, 


if the speech was to be in Congress, he seldom wrote 
more than a few of its leading outlines, leaving the sub- 
stance, as well as the diction, to the occasion." This is 
very true and just. Mr. Spofford also says : " He was 
ever most solicitous to verify every fact and quotation, 
and, after speaking ex tempore, he was anxious until he 
had carefully corrected the proofs." ^ This, too, is true 
and just ; he was a conscientious man in all that he un- 
dertook. But the pressure of work or the shortness of 
time for preparation often made the verification of the 
fact impossible; he frequently had to correct the proofs 
in extreme haste, perhaps at midnight when worn out, 
and sometimes he could not correct them at all. A 
considerable part of the matter collected in these vol- 
umes never had any real revision from its author. I 
have indeed, verified many of the facts, dates, statistics, 
etc., as well as revised the diction when revision seemed 
essential ; but I fear that my work will be found a poor 
substitute for the scholarship, care, and skill that the 
author would have brought to the task had he lived to 
be his own editor. 

The preparation of these Works for publication was 
intrusted to me by Mrs. Garfield. I have earnestly 

sought to justify her confidence. It has been a labor 
of love ; and no effort has been spared, no toil shrunk 

from, that seemed necessary to its fit accomplishment. 

I do not doubt that defects and blemishes in my work 

will be discovered ; but if the American people shall 

think that upon the whole it is not unworthy of the 

text, I will be content. Nothing more need be said by 

way of explaining these Works, or the manner of their 

* •* A Tribute of Respect from the Literary Society of Washington to its late 
President, James Abram Garfield,'* pp. i6, 17, 26. 


preparation for publication. I am not called upon to 
discuss President Garfield, or even to characterize him 
as thinker, orator, writer, or statesman. Now that I 
have put these speeches, addresses, arguments, and pa- 
pers in the best form that .1 could, and accompanied 
them with such historical commentary as seemed to me 
called for, I submit the whole to that public upon which 
the distinguished and lamented author so deeply im- 
pressed himself. 


Hiram College, Hiram, Ohio, 
September i, 1882. 



Confiscation of the Property of Rebels i 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, January 28, 1864. 

Enrolling and Calling out the National Forces .... 19 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, June 25, 1864. 

The Sale of Surplus Gold 35 

Remarks made in the House of Representatives, February 18 and March 
15, 1864. 

Free Commerce between the States 42 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, March 24 and 31, 1864. 

1^ Cabinet Officers in Congress 61 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, January 26, 1865. 

The Constitutional Amendment abolishing Slavery ... 73 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, January 13, 1865. 

Suffrage and Safety 85 

Oration delivered at Ravenna, Ohio, July 4, 1865. 

Restoration of the Southern States 95 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, February i, 1866. 

American Shipping 118 

Remarks made in the House of Representatives, February i, 1866, and 
May 25, 1870. 

The National Bureau of Education 126 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, June 8, 1866. 


The Jurisdiction of Military Commissions 143 

Argument made before the Supreme Court of the United States in Ex 
parte L. P. Milligan, W. A. Bowles, and Stephen Horsey, March 6, 1866. 

The Public Debt and Specie Payments 183 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, March 16, 1866. 

The Memory of Abraham Lincoln 202 

Remarks made in the House of Representatives. April 14, 1866. 

The Tariff Bill of 1866 205 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, July 10, 1866. 

National Politics 216 

Speech delivered at Warren, Ohio, September i, 1866. 

Reconstruction 243 

Remarks made in the House of Representatives on various Occasions. 

College Education 265 

Address delivered before the Literary Societies of Hiram College, Hiram, 
Ohio, June 14, 1867. 

The Currency 284 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, May 15, 1868. 
Strewing Flowers on the Graves of Union Soldiers . . . 322 

Oration delivered at Arlington, Virginia, May 30, 1868. 

Taxation of United States Bonds 327 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, July 15, 1868. 

Mr. Stevens and the Five-Twenty Bonds 356 

Personal Explanation made in the House of Representatives, July 23, 1868. 

Indian Affairs 364 

Remarks made in the House of Representatives on various Occasions. 

Commissioner Wells's Report 383 

Remarks made in the House of Representatives, January 19, 186^ 

Political Issues of 1868 390 

Speech delivered at Orwell, Ohio, August 28, 1868. 

The Reduction of the Army 408 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, February 9, 1869. 

The Smithsonian Institution 430 

Remarks made in the House of Representatives, March i, 1869. 


The Medtcal and Surgical History of the Rebellion. . . 434 

Remarks made in the House of Representatives, March 2, 1869. 

Strengthening the Pubuc Credit 439 

Remarks made in the House ol Representatives, March j, 1869 

The Ninth Census 443 

Remarks made in the House of Representatives, April 6, 1869. 

The Ninth Census 450 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, December 16^ 1869. 

The Canvass in Ohio . . . . ' 477 

Speech delivered at Mount Vernon, Ohio, August 14, 1869. 

Civil Service Reform 499 

Remarks made in the House of Representatives on various Occasions. 

The Tariff Bill of 1870 520 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, April i, 1870. 

Currency and the Banics 543 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, June 7, 187a 

Currency and the Banks 571 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, June 15, 187a • 

Currency and the Banks 584 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, June 29, 1870. 

Joshua R. Giddings 593 

Address delivered at Jefferson, Ohio, July 25, 1870, at the Dedication of 
the Giddings Monument. 

Political Issues of 1870 610 

Speech delivered at Mansfield, Ohio, August 27, 1870. 

American Agriculture 632 

Address delivered at the Northern Ohio Fair, Cleveland, Ohio, Octo- 
ber 12, 1S70. 

General George H. Thomas: his Life and Character . . 643 

Oration delivered before the Society of the Army of the Cumberland, at 
the Fourth Annual Reunion, Cleveland, Ohio, November #5, 1870. 

The Right to originate Revenue Bills 674 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, March 3, 187 1. 


The Ku-Klux Act 702 

Speech delivered in the House of Representatives, April 4, 1871. 

The Ohio Campaign of 187 i 732 

Speech delivered in Mozart Hall, Cincinnati, August 24, 187 1. 

The Fourteenth Amendment and Representation .... 761 
Remarks made in the House of Representatives, December 12, 187 1. 


I. Letter to Major- General Rosecrans 767 

II. Letter to Secretary Chase 772 

III. Remarks on General Rosecrans 775 







January 28, 1864. 

The confiscation of property as a punishment for treason attracted the 
attention of Congress early in the war. August 6, 186 1, an act was ap- 
proved, the first section of which authorized and directed the seizure, con- 
fiscation, and condemnation of property, of whatever kind or description, 
that should be purchased, acquired, sold, given, used, or employed with 
intent to aid, abet, or promote insurrection or resistance to the laws of 
the United States. The fourth section of the same act declared that all 
claims to the labor or service of any slave should be forfeited, provided said 
slave should, by the requirement or the permission of his owner, or his 
ov^-ner's agent, take up arms against the United States, or perform labor in 
or upon any fort, navy- yard, dock, armory, ship, intrenchment, or in any 
military or naval service whatsoever against the government and lawful 
authority of the United States. July 17, 1862, a much more rigorous and 
sweepting act was approved. It provided that every person adjudged 
guilty of treason against the United States should suffer death, or, at the 
discretion of the court, be imprisoned not less than five years, be fined not 
less than ten thousand dollars (the fine to be levied on all property, real 
and personal, excluding slaves), and all his slaves, if any, be declared and 
made free. This act also provided that, to insure the speedy termination 
of the rebellion then in progress, it should be made the duty of the Presi- 
dent to cause the seizure of all the estate and property, money, stocks, 

VOL. I. I 


credits, and effects of certain enumerated classes of persons (six in num- 
ber), and to apply and use the same and the proceeds thereof for t|je 
support of the Army of the United States. While this bill was pending 
in the two Houses, special attention was called to clause 2, section 3, 
Article III. of the Constitution: "The Congress shall have power to 
declare the punishment of treason ; but no attainder of treason shall work 
corruption of blood, or forfeiture, except during the life of the person 
attainted." It became known that President Lincoln held that the 
phrase " except during the life of the person attainted " limited the time 
for which the forfeiture of real estate might be worked, rather than the 
period within which it might be worked. The President, supposing that 
the bill would pass in a form disregarding this limitation, prepared a veto 
in advance, a copy of which he subsequently ^ laid before the House of 
Representatives for their information. Congress passed the bill in the 
form proposed, but to avert the veto sent with the bill to the White 
House a joint resolution framed to remove the President's objections, 
of which this was the last clause : " Nor shall any punishment or pro- 
ceedings under said act be so construed as to work a forfeiture of the 
real estate of the offender beyond his natural life." Considering the bill 
and the resolution "as being substantially one," President Lincoln ap- 
proved and signed both. 

January 7, 1864, Mr. J. F. Wilson of Iowa introduced into the House 
of Representatives a joint resolution explanatory of the Act of July 1 7, 
1862, which as reported back from the Judiciary Committee, omitting a 
proviso that is immaterial for the present purpose, read thus : " That the 
last clause of a joint resolution explanatory of * An Act to suppress in- 
surrection, to punish treason and rebellion, to seize and confiscate the 
property of rebels, and for other purposes,' approved July 17, 1862, be, 
and the same hereby is, so amended as to read, * Nor shall any punish- 
ment or proceeding under said act be so construed as to work a forfeit- 
ure of the estate of the offender contrary to the Constitution of the 
United States.' " As in 1862, the clause of the Constitution respecting 
forfeitures was a main point in the debate. 

While Mr. S. S. Cox, then of Ohio, now of New York, was speaking, 
January 14, Mr. Garfield said : " I wish to ask my colleague a practical 
rather than a legal question. I wish to know whether the objection he 
raises to this resolution is not itself obnoxious to this objection. We 
punish men for civil and for criminal offences, great and small, in all the 
higher and lower courts of the country, by taking their property from 
them, so that their children can never have the benefit of it after the 
parent's death. Now, while we do this constantly in our courts, by civil 
and criminal processes, does not my colleague propose to make an ex- 
ception in favor of the crime of treason ? Why should not the children 

' July i7i 1862. 


of traitors suffer the same kind of loss and inconvenience as the chil- 
dren of thieves and other felons do? I ask the gentleman whether his 
position does not involve this great absurdity and injustice ? " 

In reply to a question by Mr. Cox, Mr. Garfield said : " I do not see 
that in this resolution we do break the Constitution. If the gentleman 
can show me that it violates the Constitution, I will vote against it with 
him, even though every member of my party votes for it ; that makes no 
difference to me. I will say, however, that I had supposed that the 
intention of that clause of the Constitution was to prevent the punish- 
ment of treason when an individual was declared guilty of it after his 
death. I had supposed that that was the purpose of it, and if so, it 
seems to me that this bill is not obnoxious to the objection which the 
gentleman raises to it.*' 

January 28, the House still having under consideration the Wilson 
resolution, Mr. Garfield delivered the following speech. February 5, 
the House passed the resolution. No action was had in the Senate. 
This was the end of the resolution, and also the end of all serious 
attempts to legislate further upon the confiscation of the property of 
rebels for the punishment of treason. 

MR. SPEAKER, — I had not intended to ask the attention 
of the House, or to occupy its time on this question of 
confiscation at all; but some things have been said touching its 
military aspects which make it proper for me to trespass upon 
the patience of the House even at this late period of the discus- 
sion. Feeling that, fti some small degree, I represent on this 
floor the army of the republic, I am the more emboldened to 
speak on the subject before us. I have been surprised that, in 
so long and so able a discussion, so little reference has been 
made to the merits of the resolution itself. Very much of the 
debate has had reference to questions which I believe, with all 
deference to the better judgment and maturcr experience of 
others, arc not germane to the subject before the House. 

In the wide range of discussion, the various theories of the 
legal and political status of the rebellious States have been 
examined, — whether they exist any longer as States, and, if 
they do, whether they are in the Union or out of it. It is per- 
haps necessary that we take ground upon that question as pre- 
liminary to the discussion of the resolution itself. Two theories, 
differing widely from each other, have been proposed ; but I 
cannot consider either of them as wholly correct. I cannot 


agree with the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania,^ who 
acknowledges that these States are out of the Union and now 
constitute a foreign people. Nor can I, on the other hand, 
agree with those who believe that the insurgent States are not 
only in the Union, but have lost none of their rights under the 
Constitution and laws of the Union. 

Our situation affords a singular parallel to that of the people 
of Great Britain in their great revolution of the seventeenth 
century. From time immemorial it was the fiction of English 
law that the kingship was immortal, hereditary, and inalienable; 
that the king was " king by the grace of God " ; that he could 
do no wrong, and that his throne could never be vacant. But 
the logic of events brought these theories to a practical test 
James II. left the throne, threw the great seal of the kingdom 
into the Thames, and, fleeing from his own people, took refuge 
in France. The great statesmen of the realm took counsel 
together on some of the very questions which we are discussing 
to-day. One said, ** The king has abdicated ; we will put 
another in his place." Another said, "The crown is hereditary; 
we must put the heir in his place." The men of books and 
black-letter learning answered, Nemo est hares viventis, "The 
king is alive, and can have no heir." Another said, " We will 
appoint a regent, and consider the kingship in abeyance until 
the king returns." The people said, " We will have a king, but 
not James." Through all this struggle two facts were apparent: 
the throne was vacant, and their king was unworthy to fill it. 
The British nation cut through the entanglement of words, and 
filled it with the man of their choice. We are taught by this 
that, whenever a great people desire to do a thing which ought 
to be done, they will find the means of doing it. 

In this government we have thrown off the kingly fiction, 
but there is another which we are following as slavishly as 
ever England followed that. Here, corporations are more than 
kings. It is the doctrine of our common law (if we may be said 
to have a common law) that corporations have neither con- 
sciences nor souls ; that they cannot commit crimes ; that they 
cannot be punished ; and that they are immortal. These prop- 
ositions are being applied to the rebel States. They are corpo- 
rations of a political character, bodies corporate and politic; 
they are immortal, and cannot be touched by the justice of law, 

* Mr. Stevens. 


or by the power of an outraged government. They hover 
around our borders like malignant, bloody fiends, carrying 
death in their course ; and yet we are told they cannot be pun- 
ished nor their ancient rights be invaded. The people of the 
South, under the direction of these phantom States, are moving 
the powers of earth and hell to destroy this government. They 
plead the order of their States as their shield from punishment,' 
and the States plead the impunity of soulless corporations. But 
the American people will not be deluded by these theories, nor 
waste time in discussing them. They are striking through all 
shams with the sword, and are finding a practical solution, as 
England did. And what is that practical solution? The Su- 
preme Court of the United States has aided us, at this point, in 
the Prize Cases decided on March 3, 1863.^ It is there said in 
effect — 

"That since July 13, 1861, the United States have had full belligerent 
rights against all persons residing in the districts declared by the Presi- 
dent's proclamation to be in rebellion." 

" That the laws of war, whether that war be civil or inter gentesy con- 
vert every citizen of the hostile state into a public enemy, and treat him 
accordingly, whatever may have been his previous conduct." 

"That all the rights derived from the laws of war may now, since 
1 86 1, be lawfully and constitutionally exercised against all the citizens 
of the districts in rebellion." 

The court decided that the same laws of war which apply to 
hostile foreign states are to be applied to this rebellion. But in 
so deciding they do not decide that the rebellious States are, 
therefore, a foreign people. I do not hold it necessary to admit 
that they are a foreign people. I do not admit it. I claim, on 
the contrary, that the obligations of the Constitution still hang 
over them; but by their own act of rebellion they have cut 
themselves off from all rights and privileges under the Constitu- 
tion. When the government of the United States declared the 
country in a state of war, the rebel States came under the laws 
of war. By their acts of rebellion they swept away every ves- 
tige of their civil and political rights under the Constitution of 
the United States. Their obligations still remained; but the 
reciprocal rights which usually accompany obligations they had 

I 2 Black, 635. 


The question then lies open before us, In a state of war, 
under the laws of war, is this resolution constitutional and wise? 
I insist, Mr. Speaker, that the only constitutional question in- 
volved in the resolution is whether this government, in the 
exercise of its rights as a belligerent, under the laws of war, can 
or cannot punish armed rebels and confiscate their estates, both 
personal and real, for life and forever. This is the only con- 
stitutional question before us. 

Gentlemen have learnedly discussed the constitutional powers 
of Congress to punish the crime of treason. It matters not 
how that question is decided ; in my judgment, it has no bear- 
ing whatever on the resolution before the House. I will only 
say in passing, that the Supreme Court has never decided that 
the clause of the Constitution relating to treason prohibits for- 
feiture beyond the lifetime of persons attainted. No man in 
this House has found any decision of the Supreme Court giving 
the meaning to the Constitution which gentlemen on the other 
side of the chamber have given to it. They can claim no more 
than that the question is res non adjudicata. The arguments 
we have heard are sufficient evidence to me, at least, that the 
framers of our Constitution intended that Congress should have 
full power to define treason, and provide for its punishment; 
but the rule of the English common law, which permitted 
attainder, corruption of blood, and forfeiture to be declared 
after the death of the accused, should not prevail in this coun- 
try. To me the clause carries an absurdity on its face, if it be 
interpreted to mean that treason, the highest crime known to 
law, shall be punished with less severity, so far as it regards the 
estate of the criminal, than any other crime or misdemeanor 
whatsoever. But, as I before said, the present law of confiscation 
is based on the rights of belligerents under the laws of war. 

The gentleman from New York^ a few days since, in his 
address to the House, gave us a history of the rebellions which 
have occurred in this country. I wish to call his attention to 
one of our rebellions, a very important one, which he did not 
notice, and in which the question of confiscation was very fully 
and very practically discussed. This fact has not, I believe, 
been brought to the attention of the House. Do gentlemen 
forget that the Union had its origin in revolution, and that con- 
fiscation played a very important part in that revolution? It 

* Mr. Fernando Wood. 


was a civil war; and the Colonies were far more equally divided 
on the question of loyalty than the States of the South now are 
on the questions of to-day. Many of the thirteen Colonies had 
almost equal parties for and against England in that struggle. 
In New York the parties were of nearly equal strength. In 
South Carolina there were probably more Royalists than Whigs. 
Twenty thousand American Tories appeared in the armies 
against us in the Revolutionary struggle. Thirty Tory regiments 
served in the British line. Our fathers had to deal with these 
men, and with their estates. How did they solve the problem? 
I have looked into the history of its solution, and find it full 
of instruction. Every one of the thirteen States, with a single 
exception, confiscated the real and personal property of Tories 
in arms. They did it, too, by the recommendation of Congress. 
Not only so, but they drove Tory sympathizers from the coun- 
try; they would not permit them to remain upon American 
soil. Examine the statutes of every State, except New 
Hampshire, where the tide of battle never reached, and you 
will find confiscation laws of the most thorough and sweeping 
character. When our commissioners were negotiating the 
treaty of peace, the last matter of difference and discussion was 
that of confiscated property. The British commissioners urged 
the restoration of confiscated estates, but Jay and Franklin and 
their colleagues defended the right of confiscation with great 
ability, and refused to sign the treaty at all if that was to be a 
condition. While these negotiations were pending, the States 
memorialized Congress to guard against any concession on the 
point in dispute, and our commissioners were instructed by 
Congress to admit no conditions which would compel the res- 
toration of confiscated estates. The final settlement of the ques- 
tion will be found in the fifth article of the treaty of peace as 
it now stands recorded, which provided that Congress should 
recommend to the several Colonies to restore confiscated prop- 
erty ; but it was well understood by both parties that it would 
not be done. Congress passed the resolution of recommenda- 
tion as a matter of form ; but no State complied, or was ex- 
pected to comply with it. It was, however, provided that no 
further confiscations should be made, and that Tories should be 
permitted to remain in America for twelve months after the 
In the debates of the English House of Lords in 1783, up- 


on the treaty of peace, Lord Shelbume frankly admitted that 
the Loyalists were left without better provision being made for 
them, ** from the unhappy necessity of public affairs, which in- 
duced the extremity of submitting the fate of their property 
to the discretion of their enemies." " I have," he said, " but 
one answer to give the House; it is the answer I gave my 
own bleeding heart. A part must be wounded, that the whole 
of the empire may not perish. If better terms could be had, 
think you, my lord, that I would not have embraced them? 
/ had but the alternative either to accept the terms proposed or 
continue the war!* Lord Shelburne also declared, that " with- 
out one drop of blood spilt, and without one fifth of the ex- 
pense of one year's campaign, happiness and ease can be given 
them in as ample a manner as these blessings were ever in their 
enjoyment." The Lord Chancellor defended the treaty on other 
grounds, but said, if necessary, " Parliament could take cogni- 
zance of their case, and impart to each suffering individual that 
relief which reason, perhaps policy, certainly virtue and reli- 
gion, required." ^ 

Thus Revolutionary confiscation passed into history by the 
consent and agreement of both belligerents. Its principles 
were also defended by our government after the adoption of 
the Constitution. In 1792 Mr. Jefferson, then Secretary of 
State, in answer to some complaints of the British government, 
reviewed the whole question at great length and with great 
ability. I ask my colleague ^ to notice these extracts relating 
to belligerent rights, which he has just been discussing. 

" It cannot be denied that the state of war strictly permits a nation to 
seize the property of its enemies found within its own limits or taken in 
war, and in whatever form it exists, whether in action or possession. 
This is so perspicuously laid down by one of the most respectable 
writers on subjects of this kind, that I shall use his words : * Since it is 
a condition of war, that enemies may be deprived of all their rights, it 
is reasonable that everything of an enemy's, found among his enemies, 
should change its owner and go to the treasury. It is, moreover, usually 
directed, in all declarations of war, that the goods of enemies, as well 
those found among us as those taken in war, shall be confiscated. If we 
follow the mere right of war, even immovable property may be sold and 
its price carried into the treasury, as is the custom with movable property. 

1 See Sabine's American Loyalists, Vol. I. pp. 101, 102 (Boston, 1864). 

2 Mr. Finck of Ohio. 


But in almost all Europe, it is only notified that their profits, during the 
war, shall be received by the treasury ; and the war being ended, the 
immovable property itself is restored, by agreement, to the former 
owner.' " ^ 

"Exile and Confiscations. — After premising that these are lawful 
acts of war, I have shown that the fifth article [of the treaty of 1 783] 
was recommendatory only, its stipulations being, not to restore the confis- 
cations and exiles, but to recommend to the State Legislatures to restore 
them ; — that this word, having but one meaning, establishes the intent 
of the parties ; and, moreover, that it was particularly explained by the 
American negotiators that the Legislatures would be free to comply with 
the recommendation or not, and probably would not comply ; — that the 
British negotiators so understood it ; — that the British ministry so un- 
derstood it ; and the members of both Houses of Parliament y as well 
those who approved as who disapproved the article." ' 

Thus the Revolutionary fathers, both before and after the 
adoption of the Constitution, defended confiscation. 

The Tories who fled to England called upon the Crown for 
support. A commission was appointed to examine their claims 
and provide for their wants. It is a significant fact, that of the 
vast numbers of Tories perhaps not a thousand remained in 
this country after the war. The people would not endure their 
presence. They were driven out, and took refuge in all quar- 
ters of the globe. They colonized New Brunswick and Nova 
Scotia, and were scattered along the borders of Canada. The 
States would show no favor, even to the few who came back 
under the provisions of the treaty, and refused them the right 
of voting, or of holding office or property. It was well known 
that there could be no peace between them and our loyal 
people. Their history is a sad record of infamy, obscurity, 
and misery. Some exhibited their vengeful hate long after the 
war was over. Girty and his associates, who murdered Craw- 
ford in the Indian wars of 1782, were Tories of the Revolution. 
Bowles and Panton, leaders among the Creek Indians, and who 
started the Florida troubles, which resulted in a long and bloody 
conflict in the swamps of that region, were Tories. As a class, 
they went out with the brand of Cain upon them, and were not 
permitted to return. One State alone relented. South Caro- 

* Jefferson's Works, Vol. III. p. 369. The writer quoted by Jefferson is Bynker- 

« Ibid., Vol. III. p. 423. 



Una passed an act of oblivion, restored a large part of the con- 
fiscated estates, and permitted the Tories after a short time to 
vote and hold office. Her policy has borne its bitter fruit. 
Her government has hardly been entitled to be called republi- 
can. The spirit of monarchy and disloyalty has ruled her coun- 
cils, and has at last plunged the republic into the most gigantic 
and bloody of rebellions. 

Let us take counsel from the wisdom of our fathers. Is it 
probable that the same men who confiscated all the property of 
armed Tories would, a few years later, establish it as a funda- 
mental doctrine of the Constitution that no confiscation can be 
made beyond the lifetime of the attainted traitor? Is it proba- 
ble that men who had just done what they stubbornly held to 
be right should enact as a part of the supreme law of the land 
that the same thing should never be done again ? 

I now come more directly to consider the policy involved 
in the resolution before us. Landed estates, Mr. Speaker, 
are inseparably connected with the peculiar institution of the 
South. It is well known that the power of slavery rests in 
large plantations; that the planter's capital drives the poor 
whites to the mountains, where liberty always loves to dwell, 
and to the swamps and by-places of the South ; and that the 
bulk of all the real estate is in the hands of the slave-owners 
who have plotted this great conspiracy. Let me give you an 
instance of this, one of a thousand that might be given. In the 
town of Murfreesboro', Rutherford County, Tennessee (a place 
made sacred and glorious forever by the valor of our army), 
there are 14,493 acres of land under enclosure owned by six- 
teen men ; three of the sixteen men own more than ten thou- 
sand of the acres. One of the three owns half of the whole 
township of Murfreesboro*. And this is only a specimen of 
what these men of the South are to the lands of the South. 
Only a few hundred men own the bulk of the land in any 
Southern State ; they hold the lands and own the slaves. These 
men plotted the rebellion and thrust it upon us. They have 
had the political power in their hands, and if you permit them 
to go back to their lands they will have it again. The laws of 
nature, the laws of society, cannot be overcome by the resolu- 
tions of Congress. Grant a general amnesty, let these men go 
back to their lands, and they will again control the South. 
They have so long believed themselves born to rule, that they 


will rule the poor man in the future, as in the past, with a rod 
of iron. The landless man of the South has learned the lesson 
of submission so well that when he is confronted by a landed 
proprietor he begins to be painfully deferential ; he is facile and 
dependent, and less a man, than if he stood on a little spot of 
God's earth covered by his own title-deed. 

Sir, if we want a lasting peace, if we want to put down this 
rebelHon so that it shall stay forever put down, we must put 
down its guilty cause ; we must put down slavery ; we must take 
away the platform on which slavery stands, — the great landed 
estates of the armed rebels of the South. Strike that platform 
from beneath its feet, take that land away, and divide it into 
homes for the men who have saved our country. I put it to 
this House as a necessity which stares us in the face. What, let 
me ask you, will you do with the battle-fields of the South ? 
Who own them? Who own the red field of Stone River? Two 
or three men own it all. And who are these two or three men? 
Rebels, every one, — one of them a man who once sat in this 
chamber, but who is now a leader in the rebel army. Will you 
let hint come back and repossess his land ? Will you ask his 
permission when you go to visit the grave of your dead son who 
sleeps in the bosom of that sacred field? If the principles of 
the gentlemen on the other side be carried out, there is not one 
of the great battle-fields of the war (save Gettysburg, which lies 
yonder on this side of the line) that will not descend for all time 
to come to the sons of rebels, — to men whose fathers gained a 
bad eminence by fighting against their country, and who will 
love those fathers for affection's sake, and love rebellion for their 
fathers' sake. God forbid that we should ever visit those spots, 
made sacred by the blood of so many thousand brave men, and 
see our enemies holding the fields and ploughing the graves of 
our brethren, while the sweat of slaves falls on the sod which 
ought to be forever sacred to every American citizen ! 

The history of opinion and its changes in the army is a very 
interesting one. When the war broke out, men of all parties 
sprang to arms by a common impulse of generous patriotism, — 
which I am glad to acknowledge here in the presence of those in 
whose hearts that impulse seems now to be utterly dead. I 
remember to have said to a friend when I entered the army, 
"You hate slavery; so do I; but I hate disunion more. Let 
us drop the slavery question and fight to sustain the Union. 


When the supremacy of the government has been re-established, 
we will attend to the other question." I said to another, " You 
love slavery. Do you love the Union more? If you do, go 
with me ; we will let slavery alone, and fight for the Union. 
When that is saved, we will take up our old quarrel, if there is 
anything left to quarrel about." I started out with that position, 
taken in good faith, as did thousands of others of all parties. 
But the army soon found that, do what it would, the black 
phantom met it everywhere, — in the camp, in the bivouac, on 
the battle-field, — and at all times. It was a ghost that would 
not be laid. Slavery was both the strength and the weakness of 
the enemy : his strength, for it tilled his fields and fed his legions ; 
his weakness, for in the hearts of slaves dwelt dim prophecies 
that their deliverance from bondage would be the outcome of 
the war. Mr. Seward well says, in an official despatch to our 
Minister at the Court of St. James, " Everywhere the American 
general receives his most useful and reliable information from 
the negro, who hails his coming as the harbinger of freedom." 
These ill-used men came from the cotton-fields; they swam 
rivers, they climbed mountains, they came through jungles in 
the darkness and storms of the night, to tell us that the enemy 
was coming here or coming there. They were our true friends 
in every case. There has hardly been a battle, a march, or any 
important event of the war, where the friend of our cause, the 
black man, has not been found truthful and helpful, and always 
devotedly loyal. The conviction forced itself upon the mind 
of every soldier that behind the rebel army of soldiers the black 
army of laborers was feeding and sustaining the rebellion, and 
there could be no victory till its main support should be taken 

" You take my house when you do take the prop 
That doth sustain my house.'* 

The rebellion falls when you take away its chief prop, slavery 
and landed estates. 

Gentlemen on the other side, you tell me that this is an Aboli- 
tion war. If you please to say so, I grant it. The rapid cur- 
rent of events has made the army of the republic an Abolition 
army. I can find in the ranks a thousand men who are in 
favor of sweeping away slavery to every dozen that desire to 
preserve it. They have been where they have seen its malevo- 
lence, its baleful effects upon the country and the Union, and 


they demand that it shall be swept away. I never expect to 
discuss the demerits of slavery again, for I deem it unnecessary. 
The fiat has gone forth, and it is dead unless the body-snatchers 
on the other side of this House shall give it galvanic life. You 
may say to me that slavery is a divine institution; you may 
prove to your own satisfaction from the word of God, perhaps, 
that slavery is a beneficent institution. I will say to you that 
all this may be entirely satisfactory to your mind, but your be- 
loved friend slavery is no more. This is a world of bereave- 
ments and changes, and I announce to you that your friend has 
departed. Hang the drapery of mourning on the bier ! Go in 
long and solemn procession after the hearse, if you please, and 
shed your tears of sorrow over the grave ; but life is too short 
to allow me to waste an hour in listening to your tearful eulogy 
over the deceased. 

I come now to consider another point in this question. I 
hold it a settled truth that the leaders of this rebellion can never 
live in peace in this republic. I do not say it in any spirit of 
vindictiveness, but as a matter of conviction. Ask the men who 
have seen them and met them in the darkness of battle and all 
the rigors of warfare : they will tell you that it can never be. I 
make, of course, an exception in favor of that sad array of men 
who have been forced or cajoled by their leaders into the ranks 
and subordinate offices of the rebel army. I believe a truce 
could be struck to-day between the rank and file of the hostile 
armies. I believe they could meet and shake hands joyfully 
over returning peace, each respecting the courage and manhood 
of the other. But for the wicked men who brought on this 
rebellion, for the wicked men who led others into the darkness, 
such a day can never come. Ask the representatives of Ken- 
tucky upon this floor, who know what the rebellion has been in 
their State, who know the violence and devastation that have 
swept over it, and they will tell you that all over that State neigh- 
bor has been slaughtered by neighbor, feuds fierce as human hate 
can make them have sprung up, and so long as revenge has an 
arm to strike, its blows will never cease to be struck, if such men 
come back to dwell where they dwelt before. This is true of 
every State over which the desolating tide of war has swept. If 
you would not inaugurate an exterminating warfare, to continue 
while you and I and our children and children's children live, 
set it down at once that the leaders of this rebellion must be 


executed or banished from the republic. They must follow the 
fate of the Tories of the Revolution. 

I believe, Mr. Speaker, that the army is a unit on these great 
questions ; and I must here be permitted to quote from one of 
nature's noblemen, a man from Virginia, with the pride of the 
Old Dominion in his blood, but who could not be seduced 
from his patriotism, — one who, amid the storm of war that 
surged against him at Chickamauga, stood firm as a rock in the 
sea, — George H. Thomas. That man wrote a communication 
to the Secretary of War nearly a year ago, saying in substance, 
for I quote from memory : " I send you the enclosed paper 
from a subordinate officer; I endorse its sentiments, and I will 
add, that we can never make solid progress against the rebellion 
until we take more sweeping and severe measures; we must 
make these people feel the rigors of war, subsist our army upon 
them, and leave their country so that there will be little in it for 
them to desire." Thus spoke a man who is very far from being 
what gentlemen upon the other side of the House are pleased 
to call an Abolitionist, or a Northern fanatic ; and in saying this, 
he spoke the voice of the army. 

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised and amazed beyond measure at 
what I have seen in this House. Having been so long with 
men who had but one thought upon these great themes, it is 
passing strange to me to hear men talking of the old issues and 
discussions of four years ago. They forget that we live in 
actions more than in years. They forget that sometimes a 
nation may live a generation in a single year; that the experi- 
ence of the last three years has been greater than that of centu- 
ries of quiet and peace. They do not seem to realize that we 
are at war. They do not seem to realize that this is a struggle 
for existence, — a terrible fight of flint with flint, bayonet with 
bayonet, blood for blood. They still retain some hope that 
they can smile rebellion into peace. They use terms strangely. 
In these modern days words have lost their significance. If a 
man steals his thousands from the Treasury, he is not a thief; 
O, no ! he is a " defaulter." If a man hangs shackles on the 
limbs of a human being and drives him through life as a slave, 
it is not man-stealing, it is not even slavery ; it is only " another 
form of civilization." We are using words in that strange way. 
There are public journals in New York city, I am told, that 
never call this a rebellion, — it is only a "civil commotion," a 


"fraternal strife." It was described more vigorously in this 
chamber a few days ago as ** an inhuman crusade against the 
South." I had thought the day of " Southern brethren *' and 
•* wayward sisters " had gone by, but I find it here in the high 
noon of its glory. One would suppose from all we hear that 
war is gentle and graceful exercise, to be indulged in in a quiet 
and pleasant manner. I have lately seen a stanza from the 
nursery rhymes of England which I commend to these gentle- 
hearted patriots who propose to put down the rebellion with 
soft words and paper resolutions : — 

" There was an old man who said. How 
Shall I flee from this horrible cow ? 
I will sit on the stile 
And continue to smile, 

Which may soften the heart of this cow." 


I tell you, gentlemen, the heart of this great rebellion cannot 
be softened by smiles. You cannot send commissioners to 
Richmond, as the gentleman from New York ^ proposes, to 
smile away the horrible facts of this war. Not by smiles, but 
by thundering volleys, must this rebellion be met, and by such 
means alone. I am reminded of Macaulay's paragraph in 
regard to the revolution in England : — 

" It is because we had a preserving revolution in the seventeenth cen- 
tury that we have not had a destroying revolution in the nineteenth. It 
is because we had freedom in the midst of servitude that we have order 
in the midst of anarchy. For the authority of law, for the security of 
property, for the peace of our streets, for the happiness of our homes, 
our gratitude is due, under Him who raises and pulls down nations at 
his pleasure, to the Long Parliament, to the Convention, and to William 
of Orange." 2 

Mr. Speaker, if we want a peace that is not a hollow peace, 
we must follow that example, and make thorough work of this 
war. We must establish freedom in the midst of servitude, and 
the authority of law in the midst of rebellion. We must fill 
the thinned ranks of our armies, assure them that a grateful 
and loving people are behind to sanction and encourage them, 
and they will go down against the enemy bearing with them 
the majesty and might of a great nation. We must follow the 
march of the army with a free and loyal population ; we must 

1 Mr. Wood. 2 History of England, Vol. II. p- 510 (Harper's cd., 1856). 


protect that population by the strong arm of military power. 
The war was announced by proclamation, and it must end by 
proclamation. We can hold the insurgent States in military 
subjection half a century if need be, until they are purged of 
their poison, and stand up clean before the country. They 
must come back with clean hands if they come at all. I hope 
to see in all those States the men who have fought and suffered 
for the truth, tilling the fields on which they pitched their tents. 
I hope to see them, like old Kaspar of Blenheim, on the sum- 
mer evenings, with their children upon their knees, and pointing 
out the spot where brave men fell and marble commemorates it. 
Let no breath of treason be whispered there. I would have no 
man there, like one from my own State, who came to the army 
before the great struggle in Georgia, and gave us his views of 
peace. He came as the friend of Vallandigham, the man for 
whom the gentlemen on the other side of the House from my 
State worked and voted. We were on the eve of the great 
battle. I said to him, •* You wish to make Mr. Vallandigham 
Governor of Ohio. Why?" He replied, "Because, in the 
first place," using the language of the gentleman from New 
York, " you cannot subjugate the South, and we propose to 
withdraw without trying it Ipnger. In the next place," we will 
have nothing to do with this Abolition war, nor will we give 
another man or another dollar for its support." ** To-morrow," 
I continued, ** we may be engaged in a death-struggle with the 
rebel army that confronts us, and is daily increasing. Where is 
the sympathy of your party? Do you want us beaten, or Bragg 
beaten?" He answered that they had no interest in fighting, 
that they did not believe in fighting. I asked him further, 
" How would it affect your party if we should crush the rebels 
in this battle, and utterly destroy them ? " " We would probably 
lose votes by it." ** How would it affect your party if we should 
be beaten? " ** It would probably help us in votes." 

That, gentlemen, is the kind of support the army is receiving 
in what should be the house of its friends. That, gentlemen, is 
the kind of support these men are inclined to give this country 
and its army in this terrible struggle. I hasten to make honor- 
able exceptions. I know there are honorable gentlemen on the 
other side who do not belong to that category, and I am proud 
to acknowledge them as my friends. I am sure they do not 
sympathize with these efforts, whose tendency is to pull down the 


fabric of our government by aiding their friends over the border 
to do it. Their friends^ I say ; for when the Ohio election was 
about coming off, in the army at Chattanooga there was more 
anxiety in the rebel camp than in our own. The pickets had 
talked face to face, and the rebels made daily inquiry how the 
election in Ohio was going. And at midnight of the 13 th of 
October, when the telegraphic news was flashed down to us, and 
it was announced to the army that the Union had sixty thousand 
majority in Ohio, there arose a shout from every tent along the 
line on that rainy midnight, which rent the skies with jubilees, 
and sent despair to the heart of those who were ** waiting and 
watching across the border." It told them that their colleagues, 
their sympathizers, their friends, I had almost said their emissa- 
ries, at the North, had failed to sustain themselves in turning the 
tide against the Union and its army. And from that hour, but 
not till that hour, the army felt safe from the enemy behind it. 
Thanks to the 1 3th of October ! It told thirteen of my colleagues 
that they had no constituencies. I deprecate these apparently 
partisan remarks; it hurts me to make them; but it hurts me 
more to know that they are true. I would not make them but 
that I wish to unmask the pretext that these men are in earnest, 
and laboring for the vigorous prosecution of the war and the 
maintenance of the government. I cannot easily forget the 
treatment which the conscription bill received this morning.^ 
Even the few men in the army who voted for Vallandigham 
wrote on the back of their tickets, ** Draft! draft! " But their 
representatives here think otherwise. 

I conclude by returning once more to the resolution before 
us. Let no weak sentiments of misplaced sympathy deter us 
from inaugurating a measure which will cleanse our nation and 
make it the fit home of freedom and a glorious manhood. Let 
us not despise the severe wisdom of our Revolutionary fathers 
when they served their generation in a similar way. Let the 
republic drive from its soil the traitors that have conspired 
against its life, as God and his angels drove Satan and his host 
from heaven. He was not too merciful to be just, and to hurl 
down in chains and everlasting darkness the " traitor angel " 
who ** first broke peace in heaven," and rebelled against Him. 

^ See the following Speech, on "Enrolling and Calling out the National Forces," 
June 25, 1864. 

VOL. 1. 2 


On the 9th of April, 1864, in reply to Mr. Cox, of Ohio, Mr. Garfield 
made these remarks : — 

My colleague misrepresents me — I presume unintentionally 
— when he says that I have, on two occasions, declared my 
readiness to overleap the Constitution. That I may set myself 
and him right on that question, I will say, once for all, that I 
have never uttered such a sentiment. I believe, sir, that our 
fathers erected a government to endure forever; that they 
framed a Constitution which provided, not for its own disso- 
lution, but for its amendment and perpetuation. I believe that 
that Constitution confers on the executive and legislative de- 
partments of the government the amplest powers to protect 
and defend this nation against all its enemies, foreign and do- 
mestic ; that we are clothed with plenary power to pursue reb- 
els in arms, either as traitors, to be convicted in the courts and 
executed on the gallows, or as public enemies, to be subjected 
to the laws of war and destroyed on the battle-field. We are at 
liberty to adopt either policy, or both,' as we deem most expe- 
dient. But, sir, gentlemen on the other side of this chamber 
profess to be greatly embarrassed by constitutional restrictions. 
They tell us that the Constitution confers upon us no right to 
coerce a rebellious State ; no right to confiscate the property 
of traitors ; no right to employ black men in the military ser- 
vice ; no right to suspend the writ of habeas corpus ; no right to 
arrest spies; no right to draft citizens to fill up the army; in 
short, no right to do anything which is indispensably necessary 
to save the nation and the Constitution. It was in answer to 
such claims that I said, in substance, if all these things were so, 
I would fall back on the inalienable right of self-preservation, 
and overleap the barriers of the Constitution ; but I would leap 
into the arms of a willing people, who made the Constitution, 
and who could, in the day of dire necessity, make other weapons 
for their own salvation. The nation is greater than the work of 
its own hands. The preservation of its life is of greater mo- 
ment than the preservation of any parchment, however replete 
with human wisdom. I desire to read an extract from an 
authority which, I am sure, the gentleman will acknowledge, 
Thomas Jefferson.^ This extract states more ably than I can 
the very doctrine I have advocated. 

* Here Mr. Garfield read from a letter to J. B. Colvin, dated September 20, iSio^ 
which may be found in Jefferson's Works, Vol. V. p. 542. 




June 25, 1864. 

The first call for troops to suppress the Southern Rebellion was made 
on April 15, 1861, under the laws authorizing the President to call out 
the militia of the several States to repel invasion and to suppress insur- 
rection (especially the law. of February 28, 1795). July 22, Congress 
authorized the President to accept the service of 500,000 volunteers, for 
a period not exceeding three years ; and shortly after, this authorization 
was duplicated. Thus, early in the war the government was committed 
to volunteering as the means of filling up the army. To stimulate volun- 
teering, Congress voted, besides pay and clothing, a bounty of ^loo to 
each volunteer who should serve two years, or during the war if sooner 
ended. As the war went on, additional inducements were offered, some- 
times by law and sometimes by order of the War Department. A short 
step towards putting the military power of the republic more fully at the 
disposal of the government was taken in the act of July 17, 1862, which 
gave the President fuller control of the militia of the States. August 4 of 
the same year, the President called for 300,000 militia for nine months, 
and directed that the States should be drafted to fill up their quotas if 
necessary. March 3, 1863, the first Enrolment Act was passed. This 
gave the President power to draft, but several classes of able-bodied 
male citizens were exempted, and the drafted persons had the option 
of serving, furnishing an accepted substitute, or paying a commutation 
authorized by the Secretary of War, not to exceed J300, for the procu- 
ration of a substitute. October 17, 1863, 300,000 men were called for 
under this act. On the ist of February, 1864, a further draft of 500,000 
men was ordered ; March 14, another draft for 200,000. The frequency 
of these calls, as well as the large number of men called for in the suc- 
cessive proclamations, is explained in great degree by the looseness of 
the act of March 3, 1 863, according to which large numbers of men com- 
petent for military service were exempted, and according to wliich those 


actually drafted could avoid the service by payment of the commu- 
tation. Practically, that law tended to fill the treasury rather than the 
army; and it was called a financial rather than a military measure. 
Its operation was well explained by Mr. Garfield in some remarks made 
on February 3, 1864 : — 

" I wish to call the attention of the committee — and if I could I 
would address my remarks only to those who are in favor of an effective 
conscription bill of some sort — to some facts in relation to the opera- 
tion of the existing law. I will state in a few sentences the direct results 
of that law, so far as it has been enforced. 

" On the 14th day of December last, there had been drawn from the 
wheel in the late draft 290,000 names. Of these, 73,000 were exempted 
in consequence of disability, and 74,000 for other reasons, as laid down 
in the second section of the present conscription law; 41,000 paid com- 
mutation ; 24,000 furnished substitutes ; and 1 1 ,000 went to the field. 
Several thousand more were thrown out as having been improperly en- 
rolled. Therefore it will be seen that, out of 290,000 names drawn from 
the wheel, the government got 11,000 men who went themselves, and 
24,000 who went as substitutes. Look at the result : 290,000 men 
placed out of the enrolment list for three years to come, of whom only 
1 1,000 are in the army! How many men would you get at that rate 
fi-om the entire enrolment list of three million? If the entire number 
were drafted to-morrow under the present law, you would get 350,000 
men, and then you have pledged the faith of the government that for 
three years to come not another man in the United States shall be com- 
pelled to enter the military service. That would be the effect of the 
present law if executed in full to-morrow. I say again, that under that 
law you can obtain but 350,000 men by substitute and by draft, and 
then you will have forsworn yourselves against calling for another man in 
the United States for the army by any compulsory process." 

The speculative spirit engendered by the inflation of the currency 
and the prodigal expenditures of the war was nowhere more prominent 
than in the business of recruiting. Congress fostered this spirit by voting 
liberal bounties, and the War Department outran Congress by offering 
bounties without the authority of law. In the mean time Congress was 
struggling with the difficulties of the situation. \ December 3, 1863, it 
was provided by joint resolution, " That no bounties, except such as are 
now provided by law, shall be paid to any persons enlisting after the fifth 
day of January next." But in the same resolution money was voted to 
pay the unauthorized bounties up to that time. Then, a few days later, 
by joint resolution (approved January 13, 1864) it was voted to extend 
the time for which these high bounties shall be paid to the first day 
of March. Mr. Garfield's was one of the two votes cast in the House 
against this resolution. He thus explained his vote : — 


" The request of the President and the War Department was to con- 
tinue the payment of bounties until the ist of February next ; but the 
resolution before the House proposes to extend the payment until the 
I St of March. And while the President asks us to continue the payment 
of bounties to veteran volunteers only, this resolution extends it to all 
volunteers, whether veterans or raw recruits. If the resolution prevails, 
it seems to me we shall swamp the finances of the government before 
the I St of March arrives. I cannot consent to vote for a measure which 
authorizes the expenditure of so vast a sum as will be expended under 
this resolution, unless it be shown absolutely indispensable to the work 
of filling up the army. I am anxious that veterans shall volunteer, and 
that bounties be paid to them. But if we extend the payment to all 
classes of volunteers for two months to come, I fear we shall swamp the 
government. Before I vote for this resolution, I desire to know whether 
the government is determined to abandon the draft. If it be its policy 
to raise an army solely by volunteering and paying bounties, we have 
one line of policy to pursue. If the conscription law is to be anything 
better than a dead letter on the statute-book, our line of policy is a very 

different one I am sorry to see in tliis resolution the indication 

of a timid and vacillating course. It is unworthy the dignity of our 
government and our army to use the conscription act as a scarecrow, 
and the bounty system as a bait, alternately to scare and coax men into 
the army. Let us give liberal bounties to veteran soldiers who may 
re-enlist, and for raw recruits use the draft." 

A law approved on February 24, 1864, greatly reduced the exemp- 
tions made by the law of March, 1863, and narrowed the commutation 
clause ; but still failed to meet the emergency. While Congress was 
thus halting between two opinions, and the army was on the point of 
serious reduction through the expiration of enlistments, President Lin- 
coln himself went before the House Military Committee and stated the 
pressing necessity for men to take the places of those whose enlistments 
would soon expire. He asked for legal power to draft men to fill the 
ranks. A bill embodying these more positive ideas was introduced into 
the House by Mr. Schenck of Ohio, June 13, 1864. The House still 
hesitated, and amendments emasculating the bill were promptly carried. 
Mr. Garfield protested that the government was in want of men, and not 
of money ; that the existing law had, in the main, failed to secure the 
requisite reinforcements ; that the commutation clause of the enrolment 
act could not be retained, and the army be filled up at the same time. 
"This Congress," said he, "must sooner or later meet the issue face to 
face, and I beheve the time will soon come, if it has not now come, 
when we nuist give up the war or give up the commutation. I believe 
the men and the Congress that shall finally refuse to strike out the com- 
mutation clause, but retain it in its full force as it now is, will sub- 


stantially vote to abandon the war. And I am not ready to believe, 
I will not believe, that the Thirty-eighth Congress has come to such a 

Better counsels finally prevailed. Without following the bill of June 13 
through its devious history, it suffices to say that at the very end of the 
session an efficient law passed, bearing the tide, "An Act further to 
regulate and provide for the enrolling and calling out the National 
Forces, and for other Purposes," and was approved July 4, 1864. 
Pending this bill, Mr. Garfield delivered the following speech. 

MR. SPEAKER, — The honorable gentleman* who has just 
taken his seat has seen fit to refer to a remark which 
I made on the last occasion when the proposed repeal of the 
commutation clause was before the House. I do not think he 
intended to misrepresent me, yet he did so. I did not take it 
upon myself to criticise the individual acts or votes of any mem- 
ber of this House. But, sir, it is my right to animadvert upon 
the action of this House and the effects of its policy. This right 
I have hitherto used in such manner as I deemed proper, and 
while I have the honor of a seat in this body I shall continue to 
use it. On that occasion I did, as the gentleman states, declare 
it as my opinion that we had reached a point in the progress of 
events where we must decide, to repeal the commutation clause 
or give up the successful prosecution of the war. I did not 
then believe, nor do I now believe, that the vote then taken 
was such a decision ; but I did believe, and I yet believe, that 
if the policy indicated by that vote shall be persisted in, if the 
commutation clause be permanently retained in the law, if 
no more efficient law be passed this session for filling up our 
armies and supplying the waste of battle and disease, the rebel- 
lion cannot be put down during the lifetime of the Thirty-eighth 
Congress. I go further. If this Congress shall leave the law 
as it now stands, and the next Congress repeats the folly, I do 
not believe the rebellion will be put down during the continu- 
ance of the next Congress, nor at all while the incubus of com- 
mutation weighs down the present law. In my judgment, that 
clause stands directly in the way of filling up our armies. 

Mr. Speaker, it has never been my policy to conceal a truth 
merely because it is unpleasant. It may be well to smile in the 

1 Mr. Odell, of New York. 


face of danger, but it is neither well nor wise to let danger 
approach unchallenged and unannounced. A brave nation, like 
a brave man, desires to see and measure the perils which threaten 
it It is the right of the American people to know the neces- 
sities of the republic when they are called upon to make sacri- 
fices for it It is this lack of confidence in ourselves and the 
people, this timid waiting for events to control us when they 
should obey us, that makes men oscillate between hope and 
fear, — now in the sunshine of the hilltops, and now in the 
gloom and shadows of the valley. To such men the morning 
bulletin which heralds success in the army gives exultation and 
high hope ; the evening despatch announcing some slight dis- 
aster to our advancing columns brings gloom and depression. 
Hope rises and falls by the accidents of war, as the mercury of 
the thermometer changes by the accidents of heat and cold. 
Let us rather take for our symbol the sailor's barometer, which 
faithfully forewarns him of the tempest, and gives him unerring 
promise of serene skies and peaceful seas. 

No man can deny that we have grounds for apprehension and 
anxiety. The unexampled magnitude of the contest, the enor- 
mous expenditures of the war, the unprecedented waste of battle, 
bringing sorrow to every loyal fireside, the courage, endurance, 
and desperation of our enemy, the sympathy given him by the 
monarchies of the Old World as they wait and hope for our de- 
struction, — all these considerations should make us anxious and 
earnest ; but they should not add one hue of despair to the face 
of an American citizen, — they should not abate a tittle of his 
heart and hope. The spectres of defeat, bankruptcy, and repu- 
diation have stalked through this chamber, evoked by those 
gentlemen who see no hope for the republic in the arbitra- 
ment of war, no power in the justice of our cause, no peace 
made secure by the triumph of freedom and truth. 

Mr. Speaker, even at this late day of the session, I will beg 
the indulgence of the House while I point out some of the 
grounds of our confidence in the final success of our cause, 
while I endeavor to show that, though beset with danger, we 
still stand on firm ground, and though the heavens are clouded, 
yet above storm and cloud the sun of our national hope shines 
with steady and undimmed splendor. History is constantly 
repeating itself, making only such changes of programme as 
the growth of nations and centuries requires. Such struggles 


as ours, and far greater ones, have occurred in other ages, and 
their records are written for us. I desire to refer to the exam- 
ple of our kindred across the sea, in their great struggles at the 
close of the last and the beginning of the present century, to 
show what a brave nation can do when their liberties are in dan- 
ger and their national existence is at stake. 

There were two periods in the history of that contest when 
England saw darker days than any that we have seen, or, I 
hope, ever shall see. Consider her condition in 1797. For ten 
years the tide of mad revolution had been sweeping over Europe 
like a destroying pestilence, demolishing thrones and principali- 
ties ; and, while many evils were swept away, chaos and anarchy 
were left in its track. In 1792 France declared war against the 
world; and in February, 1793, specifically declared war against 
England. At that time the British debt was $1,268,668,045, 
and its annual interest $45,225,304. The population of the 
United Kingdom was less than twelve millions, including Ire- 
land, — Ireland then, as now, " the tear in the eye of Great Brit- 
ain," — a source of weakness rather than strength. The spirit 
of revolution pervaded the kingdom from collieries to court. 
The throne distrusted the people, and the people were jealous 
of' the throne. In 1794 the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended, 
against an opposition in Parliament more determined and far 
abler than its suspension met in our Congress two years ago. 
In 1796 three and a quarter million Catholics in Ireland were 
organized to revolt against the government, to be aided by a 
French fleet of forty sail, with twenty-five thousand French sol- 
diers on board. But for the storm which dispersed the fleet, the 
revolt must have been successful. In the same year the naval 
power of England was threatened with dissolution by a wide- 
spread mutiny in the fleet. Ship after ship deserted the fleet 
•off" Cadiz and in the North Sea. The Channel fleet ran up the 
red flag of mutiny from almost every masthead, and was drawn 
up in line of battle across the mouth of the Thames, prepared 
to sail to London if the demands of the mutineers were not 
acceded to. It required all the firmness of the king and his 
government to save the city and the navy. In 1797, oppressed 
with financial disaster, the Bank of England suspended specie 
payments, and paper money (an immense circulation of which 
crowded the country) was the legal currency for twenty-two 
years thereafter. In that fifth year of the war, as Alison says, — 


" Everything seemed to be falling at once. Their armies had been 
defeated, the Bank had suspended payment, and now the fleet, the pride 
and glory of England, appeared on the point of deserting the national 

colors The public creditors apprehended the speedy dissolution 

of government, and the cessation of their wonted payments from the 
treasury. Despair seized upon the boldest hearts ; and such was the 
genera] panic that the three per cents were sold as low as forty-five, after 
having been nearly one hundred before the commencement of the war. 
Never during .the whole contest had the consternation been so great^ and 
never was Britain placed so near the verge of ruin." ^ 

All this time France, with frenzied activity and enormous 
power, was dealing her deadly blows. In Parliament the great 
Fox was leading a powerful opposition against the government. 
The record of English divisions would answer for our own. 
Alison says : — 

" So violent had party spirit become, and so completely had it usurped 
the place of patriotism or reason, that many of the popular leaders had 
come to wish anxiously for the triumph of their enemies. It was no 
longer a simple disapprobation of the war which they felt, but a fervent 
desire that it might terminate to the disadvantage of their country, and 
that the Republican might triumph over the British arms. They thought 
that there was no chance of Parliamentary reform being carried, or any 
considerable addition to democratic power acquired, unless the ministry 
were dispossfeed, and, to accomplish this object, they hesitated not to 
betray their wish for the success of the inveterate enemy of their country. 
These animosities produced their usual effect of rendering the moderate or 
rational equally odious to both parties ; whoever deplored the war was re- 
puted a foe to his country ; whoever pronounced it necessary was deemed 
a conspirator against its liberty, and an abettor of arbitrary power." ^ 

Against such an opposition and such discouragements, the 
like of which we have not yet seen, England, with a brave king, 
a wise ministry, and a courageous Parliament, rose to the level 
of the great occasion, passed laws both for volunteering and 
draft, filled the ranks of her army and navy to more than three 
hundred and fifty thousand men, poured out her wealth with a 
lavish hand, renewed the great contest, and continued it, not 
four years, but five times four years longer. 

But England saw darker days than those of 1797. In the 
beginning of 181 2 Napoleon had risen to the height of his 

* History of Europe, ist ser., Vol. IV. p. 236 (Edinburgh and London, i860). 
« Ibid.. Vol. IV. p. 141. 


marvellous power. The continent of Europe was at his feet. 
By victorious diplomacy and still more victorious war he had 
founded an empire which seemed to defy human power success- 
fully to assail it. Every coalition against him had been broken, 
every alliance had failed. More than half the nations of Europe 
followed his conquering eagles. From the Vistula to the pillars 
of Hercules, except the rocky triangle of the Torres -Vedras, 
where Wellington was held at bay by five times his number 
under a great Marshal of France, the Continent presented an 
unbroken front against England. Russia remained in frozen 
isolation, a spectator of the contest. Only Prussia and Austria 
followed the lead of England. Let us consider her condition at 
this second crisis of her fate. 

Her population, including Ireland, was about seventeen millions. 
Her debt had been more than trebled since the beginning of the 
war, and now reached the enormous sum of $4,ocx),ooo,ooo. 
Specie payments being still suspended, her paper currency was 
more than ever expanded. In the beginning of the war, she 
raised from her mines and coined about $30,ooo,ocx) in gold. 
But the revolution which swept over South America had stopped 
the working of the mines, so that before the close of the war 
the annual British coinage was less than $12,000,000. Her navy 
was crippled by the war, her commerce ruined by the French 
Decrees and the Non-importation Act of the United States. 
Her imports exceeded her exports by $65,000,000, and the 
balance was paid in gold. For two years her harvests had 
failed, and in 1 812 she paid $21,000,000 in gold for foreign 
grain to feed her people. In that year alone her exports de- 
clined $140,000,000. The heavy subsidies to her allies and the 
payments to her own armies on the Continent were in gold. 
In 1 81 2 she sent $30,000,000 in gold, for which she paid thirty 
per cent premium, to Wellington's army in the Peninsula. Her 
bonds had so depreciated that a loan of ;^6o increased her debt 
;^ioo. A short time previous, in the midst of increasing dis- 
aster, the reason of the king gave way, and he sat a lunatic on 
the throne of a kingdom which seemed ready to go down with 
him in the general ruin. This event added a new and compli- 
cated question to the distractions of Parliament, and gave a new 
weapon to the opposition. 

It is not necessary for my present purpose to inquire whether 
justice leaned to the side of England or her adversary. It is 


enough to know that she believed it was on her part a struggle 
for self-existence and for the constitutional liberty of the world. 
Inspired with this conviction, she stood like a giant at bay ; in 
high debate she reasserted the justice of her cause, summoned 
anew, not the frantic energy of despair, but the inexhaustible 
reserve of calm Anglo-Saxon courage, the unfathomed resources 
of English faith and English pluck (a proud share of which I 
trust this nation has inherited), and in the face of unexampled 
discouragement and appalling disaster, laying under contribu- 
tion all the resources of her realm, went out again to meet the 
man of destiny, whose victories were numbered by hundreds, 
and whose eagles were followed by half the world. Increasing 
both taxes and loans, she raised and expended for that year 
$550,ooo,ocx). She filled her navy to one hundred and twenty- 
five thousand men, and before the year had ended six hundred 
and forty-eight thousand men were arrayed under her banners. 
Seconded by the indomitable spirit of her people, her armies 
emerged from the gloom of that nineteenth year of the war, 
and, marching with unfaltering step through three more bloody 
years and the carnage of Waterloo, she planted her victorious 
standards on the battlements of Paris, and gave peace to 

And can we, the descendants of such a people, with such a 
history and such an example before us, — can we, dare we, falter 
in a day like this? Dare we doubt? Should we not rather say, 
as Bolingbroke said to his people in their hour of peril: ** Oh, 
woe to thee when doubt comes ! it blows like a wind from the 
north, and makes all thy joints to quake. Woe, indeed, be to 
the statesmen who doubt the strength of their country, and 
stand in awe of the enemy with whom it is engaged ! '* 

At the same period, one of the greatest minds of England de- 
clared that three things were necessary to her success : — 

1. To listen to no terms of peace till freedom and order were 
established in Europe. 

2. To fill up her army and perfect its organization. 

3. To secure the favor of Heaven by putting away forever the 
crime of slavery and the slave trade. 

Can we learn a better lesson? Great Britain in that same 
period began the work which ended in breaking the fetters of 
all her bondmen. She did maintain her armies and her finances, 
and she did triumph. We have begun to secure the approval 


of Heaven by doing justice, though long delayed, and securing 
to every human being in this republic freedom henceforth and 

Mr. Speaker, it has long been my settled conviction that it 
was a part of the Divine purpose to keep us under the pressure 
and grief of this war until the conscience of the nation should 
be aroused to the enormity of its great crime against the black 
man, and full reparation should be made. We entered the 
struggle, a large majority insisting that slavery should be let 
alone, with a defiance almost blasphemous. Every movement 
toward the recognition of the negro's manhood was resisted. 
Slowly, and at a frightful cost of precious lives, the nation has 
yielded its wicked and stubborn prejudices against him, till at 
last blue coats cover more than one hundred thousand swarthy 
breasts, and the national banner is borne in the smoke of battle 
by men lately loaded with chains, but now bearing the honors 
and emoluments of American soldiers. Dare we hope for final 
success till we give them the full protection of soldiers? Like 
the sins of mankind against God, the sin of slavery is so great 
that " without the shedding of blood there is no remission." 
Shall we not secure the favor of Heaven by putting it com- 
pletely away? 

Shall we not fill up our armies? Shall we not also triumph? 
Was there in the condition of England in 1812 a single element 
essential to success which we do not possess tc-day? Observe 
the contrast. Her population was less than seventeen millions; 
ours is twenty-five millions in the loyal States alone. Her debt 
was more than $4,000,000,000, its annual interest $161,000,000; 
our debt is $1,720,000,000, and its annual interest $71,000,000. 
The balance of trade was $65,000,000 against her; in 1863 the 
balance was $79,621,872 in our favor. She bought grain from 
foreign nations to feed her people ; we feed our own, and send 
an immense surplus to foreign markets. Her mines yielded her 
twelve or fifteen millions of bullion annually; ours are now 
yielding $120,000,000 a year. More than half of all her pay- 
ments were made in coin purchased at a heavy premium ; we pay 
nothing in coin but $50,000,000 of our interest, and the salaries 
of our ministers and consuls abroad. She crossed the sea to 
meet her enemy on foreign soil ; we meet ours on our own soil, 
in a country that has been ours since the foundation of the 
republic. She fought to maintain her rank among the nations 


of Europe; we fight to maintain our existence among the 
nations of the earth, and to preserve liberty and union for 
ourselves and our children's children. 

If the example of England fails to inspire us, let us not, I be- 
seech you, forget our fathers of the Revolution. We have seen 
no day so dark as were whole years in their struggle. We have 
seen no captures of Philadelphia, no winter quarters at Morris- 
town, no blood-stained snow at Valley Forge. Out of a popu- 
lation of three millions, one quarter of whom adhered to the 
enemy, they sent to the field 395,892 men, — one for every 
seven women and children in the States. Were we to double 
our armies to-day, we should still fall far behind that propor- 
tion. Who can compare our resources with theirs, and not 
blush at the mention of failure, the suggestion of defeat? Do 
we, with power almost unlimited, with resources as yet un- 
touched, the balance of trade in our favor, every branch of 
industry flourishing, and everything in its proper place except 
the Congress of the United States, — do we talk gloomily of 
the issue of this contest? I believe, sir, that the worth and 
manhood of a nation must be tried by the same standard that 
tests the worth and manhood of individual men. We can never 
know what stuff a man is made of till we see him brought face 
to face with some desperate issue, some crisis of his life in 
which he must peril all in one noble effort, or shrink ignobly 
away into the coward's oblivion. If, summoning all his untried 
mankood, and flinging into the scale his honor, his fortune, and 
his life, he goes down to the trial, we know that to him " there 's 
no such word as fail." So, sir, a nation is not worthy to be 
saved if, in the hour of its fate, it will not gather up all its 
jewels of manhood and life, and go down into the conflict, how- 
ever bloody and doubtful, resolved on measureless ruin or 
complete success. 

" Si fractus illabatur orbis, 
Impavidum fericnt ruinae." 

But no ruin awaits such a nation. The American people 
have not yet risen to "the height of the great argument," nor 
will they until those who represent them here are ready with 
unselfish devotion to walk in the rugged path that leads to 


If we will not learn a lesson from either England or our Rev- 
olutionary fathers, let us at least learn from our enemies. I have 


seen their gallantry in battle, their hoping against hope amid 
increasing disaster; and, traitors though they are, I am proud 
of their splendid courage when I remember that they are 
Americans. Our army is equally brave, but our government 
and Congress are far behind theirs in earnestness and energy. 
Until we go into war with the same desperation and abandon- 
ment which mark their course, we do not deserve to succeed, 
and we shall not succeed. What have they done ? What has 
their government done, — a government based, in the first 
place, on extreme State rights and State sovereignty, but which 
has become more centralized and despotic than the monarchies 
of Europe? They have not only called for volunteers, but they 
have drafted. They have not only drafted, but cut off both 
commutation and substitution. They have gone further. They 
have adopted conscription proper, — the old French conscrip- 
tion of 1797, — and have declared that every man between 
sixteen and sixty years of age is a soldier. But we stand here 
bartering money for blood, debating whether we will fight the 
enemies of the nation or pay three hundred dollars into its 

Mr. Speaker, with this brief review of the grounds of our hope, 
I now ask your attention to the main proposition in the bill 
before the House, the repeal of the commutation clause. Going 
back to the primary question of the power to raise armies, I 
lay it down as a fundamental proposition, as an inherent and 
necessary element of sovereignty, that a nation has a right to 
the personal service of its citizens. The stability and power 
of every sovereignty rest upon that basis. Why can the 
citizen claim the protection of the government ? Because 
rights and duties are reciprocal, and the government owes him 
protection only as he gives sanction and power to the law by 
his personal service and the contribution of his wealth. Hence, 
in the name of law, he can demand protection. Hence also, in 
the name of law, his government can demand a contribution 
from his purse and his personal service. There are two great 
muscles that move the arm of sovereignty, — the treasury and 
the army. If a nation has the right to protect itself, it must 
have the right to use these two powers. It may, therefore, take 
money from the citizen in accordance with the forms of law. 
It may take every dollar of every citizen, if so much should be 
necessary, in order to support and maintain the government. 


And if the nation has the right to the citizen's money, has it 
not equally the right to his personal service? Coercion accom- 
panies the tax-gatherer at every step. The law of revenue rests 
upon coercion. Without that same coercive power no govern- 
ment could put a soldier into the .field. As well might we 
claim that the legal basis of the treasury is the contribution- 
box, as that the legal basis of the army is the volunteering 

I go a step further. Every nation under heaven claims the 
right to order its citizens into the ranks as soldiers. Great Brit- 
ain has always held that power behind her volunteering system. 
In 1798 she made a law, first to offer bounties to volunteers, and 
then to draft her enrolled citizens into the army. No such 
thing as commutation was known. Gentlemen talk as though 
the right to pay three hundred dollars in lieu of personal service 
was one of the inalienable rights guaranteed to us by the Con- 
stitution. They forget that until the 3d of March, 1863, there 
was never known in this country such a thing as paying money 
in lieu of personal service. England never indeed had a con- 
scription, but she did provide for a draft. Under the law of 
1798, she raised her militia for local purposes, and drafted from 
the militia into the regular army in the field. 

Let us look for a moment at our own history in regard to 
this subject. How were the three hundred and ninety-five 
thousand men raised for the war of the Revolution? Every 
Colony had laws for calling out its militia and compelling them 
to serve. By a statute of Maryland a citizen was liable to a 
fine of ;^io,ooo for a refusal to obey the command when 
ordered into the field. By a statute of Massachusetts as early 
as 1693, severe punishments were provided for those who re- 
fused to turn out for military duty when ordered. The spirit 
of personal independence and the protection of individual 
rights were at least as carefully guarded by the founders of the 
republic as they are by this generation, and yet they never 
doubted the power of the States to compel the citizen to serve 
in the field. It makes no matter whether it be done by the 
President, or the government of a State, the same principle is 

I affirm again that every one of the States raised men by 
draft. It was a presumed common law right. The Constitution 
of the United States recognizes the same principle by declaring 


that " Congress shall have power to provide for calling forth 
the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insur- 
rections, and repel invasions " ; * and on the 29th of September, 
1789, an act was approved (the second military law under the 
Constitution), giving to the President full power to call forth 
the militia to protect the frontiers against the Indians. That 
law was extended by the act of May 2, 1792, so as to give him 
the power to send the militia beyond the limits of their States. 
By the act of February 28, 1795, his power was still further ex- 
tended, and a heavy penalty was affixed for disobedience of the 
law. In the case of Houston v, Moore,^ and also in Martin v, 
Mott,^ the Supreme Court decided that the law is constitutional, 
and that the President has the constitutional power to compel 
a citizen to do military duty. In the war of 18 12 the President 
called on the States for troops, and when a sufficient number 
did not volunteer they were obtained by draft. In 1839, when 
the dispute occurred between this country and England in refer- 
ence to the boundaries of the State of Maine, a law was passed 
(March 3, 1839) authorizing the President to call forth one 
hundred thousand men for six months, a period double the 
length allowed by former laws. Again, the draft law in the war 
of 18 1 2 allowed substitutes, but not commutation. The bill be- 
fore us permits drafted men to obtain substitutes, but not to pay 
commutation. I say, then, since the beginning of the govern- 
ment, — still further, since the beginning of the Revolution, — 
still further, since the founding of the Colonies, — the right of 
sending citizens into the military service has been repeatedly 
asserted and exercised; and up to the 3d of March, 1863, such 
a thing as a payment of money in lieu of military service was 
never known in this country. Gentlemen must, therefore, 
abandon the claim that in repealing this clause we are interfer- 
ing with immemorial usage and inalienable rights. Even the 
law of 1863 did not regard the three hundred dollars as an 
equivalent for military service. It provided that the three hun- 
dred dollars should be paid " for the procuration of a substi- 
tute," and was supposed to be a sum sufficient for that purpose. 
It is now far from sufficient, and the law is even more unjust 
than at first. If the three hundred dollars would always pro- 
cure a substitute, the military service would not suffer by retain- 
ing the clause. 

* Art. I. Sect. 8. « 5 Wheaton's Reports, i. •12 Ibid. 19. 


But what are the facts ? The President, the Secretary of War, 
our own knowledge of affairs, tell us that, if it be retained, it 
will be impossible to fill the places of the eighty-five thousand 
hundred-days men who will go out of service in a few weeks, 
and of the three-years regiments whose terms of service are 
every day expiring. Moreover, we must allow something for 
the waste of battle, the waste of disease, and all the incidents of 
war. And now, while our armies are advancing gloriously, 
while our campaigns are prosperous, while there is no immedi- 
ate cause for alarm, let us look into the future and provide for 
its emergencies, let us hold up the hands of the President and 
remove this obstacle from the law, as he recommends. Gentle- 
men doubt what the people will say and how they will feel. I 
have learned that the people are braver than their representa- 
tives. I would much sooner take counsel of the American 
people, arid especially the American army, than of their repre- 
sentatives when an election is at hand. Would to God there 
were no Presidential election to cast its shadow over this battle 
summer, and no Congressional elections overshadowing this 
House! Perhaps we might then see with clearer vision the 
interests of the country, and strike toward them with bolder 
hands. This I do know, that the loyal people have laid up a 
great oath on the altar that they will never rest till the rebellion 
is overthrown, and they will take all necessary means to hew 
their way through to this purpose. I know that the people 
whom I represent have united their destiny with the destiny of 
the Union, and will share its fortunes, whatever betide it. I 
have not asked them, but I believe they will respond cheerfully 
to this measure. But whatever they may do, I shall strive to 
remove all obstacles to the increase of the army. 

I ask gentlemen who oppose this repeal, why they desire to 
make it easy for citizens to escape from military duty. Is it 
a hardship to serve one's country? Is it disgraceful service? 
Will you, by your action here, say to the soldiers in the field, 
" This is disreputable business ; you have been deceived ; you 
have been caught in the trap, and we will make no law to put 
anybody else in it?" Do not thus treat your soldiers in the 
field. They are proud of their voluntary service ; and if there 
be one wish of the army paramount to all others, one message 
more earnest than any other which they send back to you, it is 
that you will aid in filling their battle-thinned ranks by a draft 

VOL. I. 3 


that will compel lukewarm citizens who prate against the war 
to go into the field. They ask not that you will expend large 
bounties in paying men of third-rate patriotism, while they went 
with no other bounty than that love of country to which they 
gave their young lives a free offering, but that you will compel 
these eleventh-hour men to take their chances in the field 
beside them. Let us grant their request, and by a steady and 
persistent effort we shall in the end, be it near or remote, be it 
in one year or ten, crown the nation with victory and enduring 



February i8 and March 15, 1864. 

On the i8th of Februaiy^ 1864^ a joint resolution was reported to the 
House from the Committee of Ways and Means, authorizing the Secretary 
of the Treasury from time to time, at his discretion, to sell any gold coin 
in the treasury over and above the amount which, in his opinion, might 
be required by the government for the payment of interest on the public 
debt. Mr. Garfield made the following remarks, the first that he made 
upon a financial subject in the House of Representatives. 

MR. SPEAKER, — I propose to detain the House but a 
few moments on the question before it, as all I wish is to 
state, as clearly as possible, the conditions of the proposition as 
they exist in the resolution. 

By the present law gold can come into the treasury of the 
United States through the customs and various other avenues. 
But there is only one avenue by which it goes out, namely, the 
payment of the interest on the public debt. There was in the 
treasury on Saturday last $18,900,000 in gold. It is coming 
into the treasury at the rate of four or five hundred thousand 
dollars a day ; at the lowest estimate it is four hundred thou- 
sand dollars. If this rate continues until the ist of July next, 
we shall have $74,107,213. 

Mr. Boutwell. I wish to ask the gentleman whether the Secretary of 
the Treasury, in his estimate of the receipts and expenditures for the 
fiscal year 1864-65, does not show that our interest account, which is to 
be met by the payment of specie, will exceed ^85,000,000, while our re- 
ceipts through the custom-house will amount to but ^70,000,000, showing 
a deficiency for the fiscal year 1864-65 of ;$ 15,000,000, 

I should have answered the gentleman in my next sentence 
had he not interrupted me. The Secretary of the Treasury re- 


ports that there will become due at various times, ending with 
the 1st of July next, $23,601,943, to be paid in gold. That is 
every dollar of coin which the treasury of the United States 
will be obliged to pay up to that time. Now, there will remain 
a surplus in the treasury, on the basis of the present receipts, 

— and the receipts have greatly exceeded the estimates, — on 
the 1st of July next, of $50,505,270, and, according to the pres- 
ent practice of the government, no disposition of it will be 

Mr. Fernando Wood. I desire to ask the gentleman upon what basis* 
or upon what data, he estimates the receipts of gold from the custom- 
house, or any other sources, up to the ist of July next 

The estimates are based upon what we have been receiving 
for several months past, and the fact that the months immedi- 
ately to come are always better than the winter months. I base 
the estimates upon what we have been receiving from day to 
day for many weeks. These estimates may be too large, but 
that would not alter the principle involved. No one doubts 
that there will be a surplus. 

I say, then, that by taking the average, or a sum rather below 
the present average, — and we have every indication that the 
average will rather increase than decrease in the coming months, 

— wc shall have on the ist of July $50,500,000 in gold in the 
treasury, with no law for paying it out. Now, what is the re- 
sult? There is, probably, according to the estimates of gentle- 
men, scattered through the country in the feet of old stockings, 
locked up in trunks, put away in bureaus, laid away under the 
heads of beds and in vaults of banks, $200,000,000 of gold. I 
suspect that to be a large estimate, judging from the statements 
of trade. 

Now, sir, on the ist of July next one quarter of all the gold in 
the United States will be locked up in the vaults of the United 
States Treasury, and lying there as dead matter. Every dollar 
that goes in there leaves the amount in circulation a dollar less, 
raises the price of gold, disturbs the market, and disgraces our 
credit; and yet, because it is locked up in the treasury, and we 
will not pass a law sending it out, our credit must go down and 
down, further and further, as Mr. Lamar and his coadjutors in 
the Rebel States desire it shall go down, and as his coadjutors 
in the Northern States seem to desire it shall go down. They 


are talking in the most anxious manner here — witness the last 
speech to which we have listened — of returning to a specie 
basis. Do not gentlemen upon this floor know that no great 
war was ever waged in modern times with specie? It is one of 
the settled and inevitable laws of trade, that great wars must be 
conducted with a paper currency, and not with gold. 

Now, why do we ask that this great amount of capital shall 
be, from time to time, liberated? For the best reason in the 
world. Generally I would not interfere with the laws of trade ; 
they are as immutable as the laws of nature ; but I would now 
interfere with them because they are not in a natural and normal 
condition ; they are in a condition superinduced by the necessi- 
ties of war, and it is to counteract this abnormal state of trade 
that we are disposed to let loose this gold so as to keep up the 
credit of the government. What has so changed the character 
of gold? It is hardly to be called the representative of value; 
it is fast becoming a commodity, instead of a medium of ex- 
change ; and if the war continues very much longer it will be 
merely a commodity, and not a circulating medium. It is well 
known that, when paper currency comes into general use, it 
expels gold, and that such is its natural tendency. Our gold is 
scattered over the border, driven to Canada, sent abroad, and 
the amount actually in use in the business of the country is so 
small that, if we reduce it by locking up $50,000,000 in the 
vaults of the treasury, we shall create a panic that will ruin the 
business of the country. 

The gentleman from Ohio ^ has offered an amendment, that 
this surplus shall be paid to the soldiers in the field. I remem- 
ber the political capital that some gentlemen on the other side 
of the House attempted to make on the subject of paying sai- 
lors and soldiers in coin ; and I remember a remark which was 
made, and which what I see in the galleries this morning almost 
prohibits me from repeating, but that a sense of justice requires 
that I should repeat. It was charged on the other side of the 
House, that, if we did not pay our sailors and soldiers in gold, 
their wives would become prostitutes. I stood here as a man 
abashed ; I stood amazed and ashamed that I belonged to a 
body in which such an utterance could be made about the loyal 
women of this country. 

Every gentleman upon this floor knows well that it is impos- 

1 Mr. Long. 


sible now to return to a specie basis. Every man who has 
looked into the condition of the country knows that it is impos- 
sible, without utter prostration and ruin, to attempt to return to 
a specie basis at this time. It becomes us, then, to use the gold 
that we have to keep up the credit of the country, and not to 
destroy it ; and I do not propose to be deterred by references 
to all those laws and resolutions that have been passed hitherto 
in regard to the policy of the country. 

I am not in such unfortunate circumstances as* the gentleman 
from New York * who has just spoken. I am under no pres- 
sure from any quarter, from any particular source, from any 
particular person ; I am under no instructions from any man, 
in office or out of office, how to vote, think, or act upon this 
subject I have not been honored with that pressure, and I 
am therefore free to act as it seems to me the pressure of the 
country and its interests require; and I ask gentlemen now 
whether they are willing to help to carry out the scheme of 
Lamar, of Georgia, to help to reduce the value of our paper 
currency, until we shall be ruined, as the Southern Confederacy 
is being ruined, by its finances, rather than by its battles. 

There are two elements which decide the question of war. 
One is military, the other is financial. The man who destroys 
the finances of a country ruins it as thoroughly as he who de- 
stroys its army. It becomes us, therefore, while we replenish 
our armies on the one hand, to maintain the credit of the treas- 
ury on the other. For that purpose I believe this measure is 
wise. I know it ought to be guarded; and any amendment 
that will make it more carefully worded, and that will protect us 
from all chances of fraud or corruption on the part of govern- 
ment officials, I shall be glad to vote for. But I am unwilling 
that we should defeat the purpose of the resolution, and lock up 
this money, on the old idea that money locked in vaults is as 
good as money in circulation. 

On the 15th of March following, the measure having been to the Sen- 
ate and returned to the House, Mr. Garfield made these remarks. As 
finally adopted and approved, the joint resolution authorized the Secre- 
tary of the Treasury to anticipate the payment of interest, and to " dis- 
pose of any gold in the treasury not necessary for the payment of inter- 

1 Mr. Brooks. 


est on the public debt/' provided the obligation to create the sinking fund 
should not be impaired. 

Mr. Speaker, — I design to detain the House but a few 
minutes with what I have to say on this subject ; but I wish to 
state what seems to me the present condition of the question. 
There have been so many things said, we have wandered so far 
from the proposition before the House, that I wish to restate 
the question as it now lies before us. 

This House passed a joint resolution authorizing the Secre- 
tary of the Treasury to dispose of the surplus gold by antici- 
pating the payment of interest on the public debt. There were 
two principal reasons assigned why we should dispose of this 
gold : first, that it was accumulating on our hands faster than 
we had any legal means of using it; and secondly, that, by 
thus accumulating, it was causing a continually increasing strin- 
gency in the gold market, with a consequent rise of price. It 
seemed therefore just, that, as by law we had interfered with 
the gold market, we should by law provide for curing that 
interference. We all recognize the fact, that, if gold continues 
to advance, it very much injures, not only the people at large, 
but also the government and its securities. It has been proved 
by more accurate statistics than we had before us on the 8th 
of March, when the House acted on this matter, that by the 
17th of July next there will be nearly thirty million dollars of 
surplus gold in the treasury. That has been tested by the most 
careful estimates possible, not only here, but in the other wing 
of the Capitol. 

Now, Mr. Speaker, three ways for returning this gold into the 
general circulation have been proposed. The first is by direct 
sale, — the proposition that comes to us from the Senate. 
The second is by anticipating the payment of interest. And 
the third is by creating a sinking fund, as already provided 
for by law. As to the second and third, I have only a word 
to say. 

To create a sinking fund as provided by law is at present sim- 
ply an absurdity. I see no wisdom in buying up the bonds of 
the government when we are now borrowing $2,cxx),cxx) a day 
to meet our current expenses. It makes the government enact 
the farce of borrowing money of itself. It is true that we are 
required by law to create a sinking fund, but no one can charge 


us with a breach of faith if we refrain from creating such a 
fund while we are still borrowing. We can repeal that law alto- 
gether without any violation of the faith of the country. 

Now, suppose we anticipate the interest on the public debt, 
with or without rebate, as provided by the original bill which 
passed this House on the 8th instant. Everybody knows that 
no man would receive prepayment and allow an abatement of 
interest. Why? Money in the New York market is now worth 
but little more than five per cent, and of course no man will 
call in his money drawing a larger rate of interest and immedi- 
ately reinvest it at a lower rate. Therefore we may as well 
dismiss from our minds any hope that we can get a rebate by 
anticipating the interest on our bonds ; and the proposition to 
undertake to pay our debts before they are due, while at the 
same time we are borrowing money to pay debts overdue, is so 
absurd that a plain statement of it is its best refutation. 

Another objection to the bill as it passed the House is, that 
the remedy is inadequate to meet the difficulty we seek to ob- 
viate. If we conclude to anticipate the payment of interest, the 
process will be so slow as to have no appreciable effect upon 
the gold market It takes weeks to make the small monthly 
payments of interest as they become due ; and if we undertake 
to pay them before they are due, the process will be still slower, 
and will utterly fail to bring down the price of gold. Let me 
read an extract from one of the daily journals, published the 
morning after the passage of the bill by the House, showing 
how it was regarded by the commercial men of New York. I 
read from the New York Commercial Advertiser, of March 9th. 

" After four o'clock, the news of the passage of Mr. Boutwell's gold 
bill reached the market. The bill merely authorizes the Secretary of 
the Treasury to anticipate the payment of interest on the public debt 
from time to time, with or without a rebate of interest upon the coupons, 
as to him may seem expedient. In this amended form it passed, ninety 
against thirty-four, — a very strong vote, • which seems to fvyi the policy 
of Congress. This amounts to nothing in the way of relief, since it is of 
no practical value whether the ^3,000,000 due on the ist of April, and 
the ^15,000,000 due on the ist of May, are begun to be paid now or 
then. It will take a month at least to pay the 1815,000,000. When 
;S6,ooo,ooo was due on November ist, it required the whole month to 
complete the payments, and the price of gold was not affected at all. 
The Secretary lias now the same duty as before, to apply the gold to 


the purchase of stock for the sinking fund, a process which would freely 
deplete the treasury. On the promulgation of the passage of this bill, 
gold, which had been dull at 163 J, immediately rose to 164^, and in 
the evening sales reached 165I. 

" This morning the assemblage at the gold rooms was prompt, and 
the opening price was 165 J. 

"The demand continued very active, and the rate soon touched 168, 
when a little reaction set in, and it declined to 16 7 J, and again recov- 
ered to 168^ to i68| at 12 M. 

" The rate for exchange went up in the same proportion, and sales 
were made at 181 J, but this rate is still lower than gold." 

Now see the result. The business men of New York, who 
are perfectly familiar with the whole subject, took it up, and the 
moment the bill was passed declared what the result would be. 
They knew how perfectly futile would be its effect on the price 
of gold, and up went gold eight or nine per cent in a single day. 
They saw by how large a majority the bill had passed the House, 
and they considered that majority an indication that the House 
would insist upon its action. It seems to me there is a practi- 
cal lesson, which this House should not fail to profit by, in 
the consequences which followed our action when this bill was 
originally passed. 

Wc have, therefore, proposed as a remedy for the present 
difficulty growing out of the accumulation of gold in the treas- 
ury; first, the creation of a sinking fund; next, the anticipation 
of the payment of the interest on the public debt; neither of 
which, as I have already shown, is at all adequate to meet the 
present emergency. We have, then, in the third place, the 
proposition to place in the hands of the Secretary of the Treas- 
ury the power, after reserving in the treasury an amount of 
gold sufficient to provide for the payment of the interest in coin, 
to take the large balance, and so wield it as to knock down the 
price of gold; and if at the same time he knocks down the gold 
speculators, they will meet a just reward for their presumptuous 
sins. ** Let them not have dominion over us." Sir, it will be 
a power that can be wielded for good, not only now, but at any 
time in the future, as the nature of the case may require. I be- 
lieve that the proposition contained in the amendment of the 
Senate is, on the whole, the best that we can adopt 



March 24 and 31, 1864. 

Towards the close of the war, the urgent need of additional railroad 
facilities between Washington City and the Northern and Eastern States 
became painfully apparent. January 6, 1864, the House of Represent- 
atives created a special committee of nine members, " with authority to 
examine into the expediency of the establishment of a new route for 
postal and other purposes" between Washington and New York. Of 
this committee Mr. Garfield was a member. Various propositions were 
submitted at that session ; but the only one that seriously arrested the 
attention of the House and the country was a bill reported from the 
Military Committee, March 9, " to declare certain roads military road's 
and post-roads." This bill was introduced in response to a petition of 
the Raritan and Delaware Bay Railroad Company, asking to have their 
road declared a lawful structure, and a post and military road of the 
United States. This was the case, as stated by Mr. H. C. Deming, of 
Connecticut, who introduced the measure and opened the debate, March 
17, 1864. 

" The petitioners have constructed a raib-oad from Port Monmouth, 
near Sandy Hook, to Atsion, which lies nearly east of Philadelphia, and 
it is connected by the Batsto branch with the Camden and Atlantic Rail- 
road Company. Thus, by means of the road they have constructed, by 
means of the Batsto branch, and by means of the Camden and Atlantic 
Railroad Company, they have a railroad constructed from Port Mon- 
mouth, near Sandy Hook, to Camden, which is opposite the city of 
Philadelphia. They have also a steamboat running fbom the city of New 
York to Port Monmouth, and a ferry running from Camden to Phila- 
delphia ; and thus, by means of their raib-oads, their steamboats, and 
their ferry, they have a continuous through line from the city of New 
York to the city of Philadelphia. In one great emergency of the na- 
tion, shortly after the battle of Antietam, when there was a universal 
panic through the country, when the interests of the republic were 
most seriously imperilled, this continuous through line from New York to 


Philadelphia was able to render great service to the nation, and actually 
carried over this through line upwards of seventeen thousand troops, and 
upwards of eight hundred thousand pounds of munitions of war. Shortly 
after they had performed this great service to the country, a petition for 
an injunction was brought against them by the Camden and Amboy 
Raihoad Company before the Chancellor of New Jersey ; and since this 
subject has been before the committee, a decree of the Chancellor has 
been issued in that case, a synopsis of which will be found in the report 
which accompanies this bill. The Chancellor enjoins the use of the 
petitioners' road, except for local purposes, and orders that the Raritan 
and Delaware Bay Railroad Company pay to the Camden and Amboy 
Railroad Company all sums collected by the former for through business, 
including the amount received for transportation of troops; and the 
Ch^hcellor decrees that the petitioners* road has no right to carry or 
aid in carrying, passengers and freight between New York and Philadel- 
phia. The effect of this decision, as the House will see, is to destroy 
this road as a continuous through road between New York and Phila- 
delphia. It confines it to local business between Camden and Port 
Monmouth. It cuts off both ends of the road, cuts off the steamboat 
transportation on the Raritan Bay, and the ferry upon the Delaware 
River, thus destroying the road as a continuous through route between 
New York and Philadelphia. 

"Under these circumstances the petitioners come to Congress for 
relief, praying that their road and its branches, and its accompanying 
ferries, may be declared lawful structures, and also post and military 
roads of the United States." ^ 

Upon this bill, March 24 and 31, Mr. Garfield made this speech. 
May 13, the House struck out all after the enacting clause, and inserted 
the following : " That every railroad company in the United States, 
whose road is operated by steam, its successors and assigns, be and is 
hereby authorized to carry upon and over its road, connections, boats, 
bridges, and ferries, all freight, property, mails, passengers, troops, and 
government supplies, on their way from one State to another State, and 
to receive compensation therefor." In this form the bill passed, with 
the title, " A Bill to regulate Commerce among the several States." A 
vote on the bill was never reached in the Senate. 

But this was not the end of the measure. Early the next session, Mr. 
Garfield himself reintroduced the bill in the form just given. After be- 
ing amended, so as to allow railroads " to connect with roads of other 
States, so as to form continuous lines," and denying them the right " to 
build any new road, or connect with any other road, without authority 
from the State in which said railroad or connection may be proposed," 
the bill passed, and became a law, June 15, 1866. In some remarks 

* Congressional Globe, March 17, p 1165. 


made on December 19, 1865, Mr. Garfield said that the bill was ''a plain 
determination of the right of Congress to regulate commerce between 
the States/' and that it "struck a blow at those hateful monopolies 
which had been so long preying upon the body of American industry." 
Kindred topics were discussed by him, May 30 and 31, 1866, in re- 
marks upon the bill to make the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad a 
military, postal, and commercial railroad of the United States. 

MR. SPEAKER, — Before I proceed to discuss the merits 
of this bill, I must express my disapprobation of all 
those remarks, of which we have heard very many since this 
debate began, respecting the probable motives of the com- 
mittees and members of this House. Such considerations are 
wholly unworthy of ourselves and our position. 

The gentleman from New Jersey^ has intimated that the 
Committee on Military Affairs was not unanimous in its action 
upon this bill. I should like to know by what authority he 
makes that assertion. If any member of the Military Commit- 
tee is opposed to the bill, he can speak for himself. We have 
also been told that there are outside influences at work here ; 
that the lobbies are full of corporation agents, crowding around 
us on all hands, and pressing their influences upon the commit- 
tees and the House. I have only to say, that such remarks are 
wholly unworthy of this place, and should be condemned as 
undignified and unbefitting the character of men holding the 
high place of legislators for the American nation. 

The gentleman from Pennsylvania ^ who has just addressed 
the House stated that New Jersey politics, New Jersey inter- 
ests, and New Jersey legislation were brought before us and 
animadverted upon in order to control our action. This is all 
small-talk aside from the issue, and should not have a feather's 
weight in determining the action of this body. He treats the 
Raritan and Atlantic Railroad as a part of a proposed air-line 
road, and reads us a lesson from the hornbooks of geometry to 
prove that this broken line of roads does not satisfy Euclid's 
definition of a straight line. We do not need discussions of 
that sort to enable us to understand the nature of a monopoly, 
or our duty as legislators. The question before us is a part of 
the larger one of increasing the railroad facilities between New 

^ Mr. Rogers. > Mr. Broomall. 


York and Washington. The considerations which bear upon 
that question bear also upon this. 

It is a notorious fact, that the means of communication be- 
tween the commercial metropolis and the political metropolis 
of this country are exceedingly deficient. This cannot be de- 
nied. We have it from the Post-Office Department, we have it 
from the War Department, we have it from the business public, 
and we have it from the experience of every gentleman who 
has travelled over this route, or who has had occasion to trans- 
port freight over it, — that there can scarcely be found in the 
United States any two important cities with railroad facilities 
so inadequate as those between New York and Washington. 

It is a fact to which I wish to call the attention of the House, 
and I have the consent of the committee to which I belong to 
state it, that, in reply to a letter addressed to him, the Quarter- 
master-General states that the facilities of the present roads 
are not sufficient for the transportation of forage for the ani- 
mals belonging to the Army of the Potomac and the troops 
about this city. He states officially that it requires three hun- 
dred and seventy-five car-loads of long forage and seventy-four 
car-loads of short forage per day to feed the animals belong- 
ing to the army in front of Washington. This does not include 
transportation of quartermasters* stores. It does not include 
commissary supplies. It does not include the ordinary necessi- 
ties of trade in this capital. It includes only this one item, — 
the supply of the animals of the army, which requires four hun- 
dred and forty-nine car-loads of forage per day; all of which 
must come to the city of Washington over a single track, the 
only means of access in time of winter to the capital of the 
nation. A large part of these supplies come over the line 
between New York and this place. At the time of the ice 
blockade, on the 1st of January last and the week succeed- 
ing, the Quartermaster-General reported that he received but 
t\\'enty car-loads of forage for a whole week. He should have 
received seven times four hundred and forty-nine car-loads. 
The Potomac, and the railroad itself, which in two places 
crosses an arm of the sea, were blockaded with ice. 

The quartermaster further reported, that, if the blockade had 
continued one week longer, the animals of the army would have 
been in a starving condition. It stands before this government as 
a matter of fact, that had the ice remained in the river two weeks 


longer, the animals of the army of the Potomac would have 
perished. You could not have fed your army, you could not 
have preserved your animals, you could not have maintained 
your war, if the providence of God had not broken the fetters 
of winter ; for the simple reason that a power not in the hands 
of the government, but in the hands of a great corporation, 
holds the key to all communication between this city and the 
outside world. 

Now the question comes, Has this government the right to 
protect itself? has this nation the right to feed itself? has it the 
right to feed its army? If it has any of these rights, it has the 
consequent right to adopt and use the means necessary to ac- 
complish the purpose. No small-talk about New Jersey or 
Pennsylvania politics, no small-talk about an air line, a broken 
line, or a curved line, will meet the gigantic fact which stares 
Congress in the face, that we must feed our army, and to do so 
must increase our railroad facilities from this place to the out- 
side world, and most of all between this city and the great com- 
mercial metropolis of the nation. I pass from this general 
consideration to the specific one, the bill before us. 

Mr. Morris. The gentleman speaks of obstructions by ice. I wish 
to inquire whether they will be remedied in the future if this bill is 
passed. In other words. Is the obstruction on either of the roads in 
this bill? 

I will answer, that the proposed new road, for the construc- 
tion of which the select committee on that subject has prepared 
a bill, will be on a line above tide-water, where all the streams 
can be permanently bridged, thereby avoiding the ice and com- 
pletely answering the question which the gentleman raises. 

I have thus far only stated the fact that we are miserably and 
notoriously deficient in means of communication between this 
city and New York ; and anything we can do to increase the 
facilities between this city and that will help the business of 

The legislature of New Jersey has done what, perhaps, it 
had the right to do^ I do not interfere with that, and I do not 
ask this House to legislate for New Jersey, but for the Union. 
That State chartered a railroad between New York and Phila- 
delphia, and placed limitations and restrictions in the charter of 
that road. It provided that no other road should do through 
business between these two cities. That is the point with which 


we have to deal here. Suppose New Jersey had made a law 
that there should never be any railroad through her territory. 
If she were isolated, like Florida, she probably might have 
made sucli a law without wrong to her sister States, and it 
could not have been considered an interference with commerce 
between the States ; but if New Jersey, located as she is, had 
passed such a law, would any one deny the right of the general 
government to order or permit the construction of a new road 
across that State for the general good of the country? 

Let us take a stronger case. There is one State, — New 
York, — whose territory cuts the Union in two. Its northern 
boundary touches the British dominions ; its southern, the sea ; 
and it forms the only land connection between New England 
and the West Suppose New York should decree that there 
should forever be no railroads within her limits ; then no man 
in New England could reach the West, except by the sea or 
through a foreign country. Or suppose, instead of such a law 
as that, she should declare that there should be but one rail- 
road across her territory, — but one highway between New 
England and the West ; and suppose that that road could do 
but three fourths of the required business ; I ask if that would 
not be precisely the same as though New York should decree 
that one fourth of all the necessary business between New Eng- 
land and the West should never be done, and if she would not 
thus destroy one fourth of all the commerce between those sec- 
tions of the country? And I ask any gentleman if, in that 
event, he would not consider it our duty to give the rights of 
New England and the West a hearing on this floor, — to re- 
voke that decision of New York, and declare that free course 
should be given to the commerce between the Great West and 
the New England States? It seems to me that no sane man 
can doubt it 

A thing precisely similar has been done by the State of New 
Jersey. She does not span the continent; she does not reach 
from the ocean to Canada ; but she does lie between the po- 
litical centre and the commercial centre of this country ; and 
it happens to be in her power, if we do not exercise a superior 
power, to say that there shall be no road, or but one, between 
those two great cities. She has chosen not to interdict all 
roads, but to say there shall be no commerce between Wash- 
ington and New York beyond what one road is able and willing 


to carry on. Who will deny that this is, pro tantOy an interdic- 
tion of commerce, — a decision that all the surplus business 
over and above what the Camden and Amboy road can do, 
shall not be done at all? If there is ever offered for transpor- 
tation over that road one pound of freight more than it can 
carry, and carry promptly. New Jersey has decided by solemn 
law that that pound of freight shall not be carried by rail- 
road across her territory. She has absolutely interdicted it. 
It is to meet this case that the power of Congress is now 

Now, what constitjutional powers do we possess in this be- 
half? If gentlemen will take time to read the very able report 
of my colleague on the Military Committee, the gentleman from 
Connecticut,^ they will see that five distinct times has the Con- 
gress of the United States affirmed and exercised the- right to 
establish military and post roads, and to regulate commerce 
between the States, by permitting the opening of roads and the 
construction of bridges. *And not only so, but on one memo- 
rable occasion, fresh in all our recollections. Congress actually 
annulled a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States 
on a similar question. The Supreme Court declared the 
Wheeling bridge a public nuisance; decided that it existed 
without sufficient warrant of law, and should be removed; and 
immediately on the rendering of that decision Congress passed 
a law declaring the structure a lawful one, and part of a post- 
road, any law of any State or decision of any court to the con- 
trary notwithstanding. Will the gentleman from Pennsylvania * 
who has just taken his seat claim that this was an indignity to 
the Supreme Court? He says that the legislation now pro- 
posed is an indignity to the legislature and the judiciary of New 
Jersey. New Jersey has risen very high in her dignity if the 
Congress of the United States can insult her by legislating as it 
has done five times before. If New Jersey is insulted by this 
legislation, what will the gentleman say of the Supreme Court 
of the United States, whose decision was at once revoked by 
act of Congress? I know of no power on earth that should 
possess more dignity than the sovereignty of the American 
people in Congress assembled. I know of no body politic, 
corporate or national, that can be insulted by the legitimate 
and constitutional action of this body. 

^ Mr. Deming. « Mr. Broomall. 


Mr. Broomall. The gentleman is certainly mistaken in supposing 
that I claimed the want of power in Congress to make such enactments, 
or that I stated that the dignity of the State of New Jersey would be in- 
sulted. I claimed no dignity for New Jersey, and denied no power to 
Congress ; I merely denied the policy of amending New Jersey legis- 
lation by act of Congress. 

If the gentleman's statement of his own position be correct, — 
and of course I accept it, but I distinctly understood him other- 
wise, — I still do not agree with him that we should never inter- 
fere with and amend things that are wrong. I take it to be our 
special duty here to do justice ; and if any State has usurped 
the prerogatives of this body, it is our duty to correct that in- 
justice by amending or abrogating its action. I am very glad 
that the gentleman has taken away all suspicion that he denies 
the power of Congress to legislate on this subject. 

Now, what are the facts in relation to this New Jersey rail- 
road ? That it is a complete and sweeping monopoly, no man 
can deny. That it has furnished the revenues and paid the ex- 
penses of that State for many years, is undeniable. Not a dol- 
lar of tax for the current expenses of her government did New 
Jersey levy for years until the war began. The Camden and 
Amboy Railroad Company has paid $2,600,000 into the treas- 
ury of the State since it received its charter. And that has been 
collected, not on the local business, but on the through business 
from Philadelphia to New York, nine tenths of it the business 
of persons not citizens of New Jersey. Disguise it under any 
color you please. New Jersey's taxes have been paid by citizens 
of other States. Her burdens have been borne by citizens of 
Pennsylvania, of New York, of the West, of New England, and 
not by her own citizens. 

It is very true that, if a citizen of New Jersey chances to be 
in Philadelphia, and buys his ticket to New York, he pays his 
ten cents of tax to the State ; but it is also true that, if his jour- 
ney is wholly within New.Jersey, he pays less per mile than he 
would as a through passenger. This has been a crying shame 
before the people of the country. Men of justice and equity 
have condemned it everywhere. I say it without any ill feeling 
toward New Jersey or her people. It has brought a cloud over 
the fair fame of the State, which, were I a representative from 
the State, I should be the first to desire to see removed. 

Now, what is the purpose of the bill before us? A line of 

VOL. I. 4 


road has been constructed from Raritan Bay to Philadelphia, or 
rather to the middle of the river, opposite Philadelphia. The 
Supreme Court of New Jersey has decided, first, that the road 
is a legal structure. Let that be noted. But it has also de- 
clared, that, although the road is a legal structure, no man can 
ride over it ; that no freight can be carried over it from Phila- 
delphia to New York. The court has sealed up the two ends 
of the road. It has sealed it at the middle of the river oppo- 
site Philadelphia. It has sealed it at high-water mark, on Rari- 
tan Bay. Now, what is asked of Congress? We are asked to 
commence at the State line and unseal one end of the road; 
and we are asked to go to high-water mark, at the boundary of 
the ocean, which is under our exclusive jurisdiction, and unseal 
the other end of the road. That is what we are asked to do. 

But I am informed that the morning hour has expired. I 
have a few more words to add when the consideration of this 
bill is resumed. 

On the 31st of March the debate was renewed, and Mr. Garfield con- 
tinued as follows : — \ 

Mr. Speaker, — When this subject was last before the House, 
I submitted a few remarks, but the morning hour expired before 
I concluded. I then undertook to show, by the reports of the 
Quartermaster-General and the Postmaster-General, that oiir 
communications between this city and the city of New York 
are notoriously insufficient for the wants of the government and 
the general public. That statement was demonstrated by quo- 
tations from official reports. I then made the point that, if any 
State prohibited the construction of more than one line of com- 
munication, and that line was not sufficient for all the business 
required, it was, pro tanto, an inhibition of transportation across 
that State. I showed conclusively, I think, that such was the fact 
in regard to transportation across the State of New Jersey, and 
the prohibition which now exists is, in -fact, a refusal to grant the 
necessary rights of transit across the territory of that State, and 
a direct interference with commerce between the States. 

I know that the gentleman who preceded me^ stated that, 
while he was in favor of an " air line," or direct route across 
New Jersey, he was not in favor of an " elbow line," or circuit- 
ous route. I answer, if the route is a circuitous one, and less 

^ Mr. Broomall. 


eligible for the purposes of commerce, it cannot be competitive 
unless transportation by the usual route is insufficient If you 
allow that the present road is insufficient, why not permit the 
use of a circuitous road rather than cripple the commerce of 
the country? But the new road is competitive, because the old 
one is not sufficient. The government has transported over 
the elbow " route," during the past season, 3 1 ,394 United States 
troops, 620 horses, and 108 car-loads of baggage for the troops 
thus transported. The road is a competitive route, and a New 
Jersey court has so decided. Why competitive? Because, in 
railroad travelling, time is a more important element than dis- 
tance, and the running time of the new road between Philadel- 
phia and New York is ten minutes less than that of the Camden 
and Amboy between the same places. It is true the distance is 
twenty-three miles greater, yet, because of the sparsely settled 
country through which it passes, there are fewer stopping- 
places, fewer hindrances to travel, and hence it is a quicker 
route. It does its business more rapidly and promptly than the 
Camden and Amboy. 

The present monopoly complains that greater facilities for 
transportation have been afforded to the American people. It 
has itself furnished testimony of its own inability to meet all the 
demands of commerce. In a document which its directors have 
circulated among the members of this House, they attempt to 
show that they have filled all orders promptly and thoroughly. 
One of their own witnesses, however, a captain in the army, 
says : — 

" In answer to the several interrogations contained in the pencil memo- 
randum which you handed me yesterday I have to state as follows, viz. : — 

" Fourth interrogation. — Camden and Amboy Railroad could have 
carried more troops at any time than were offered. I have no means of 
knowing how many troops could have been carried if the whole facilities 
of that road had been given to the government ; but the demands at times 
have been very heavy, probably more than any one road in this or any 
other country could have met without considerable delay. Troops have 
often been sent by steamer to Washington to relieve the railroads. 

" D. Stimson, 
Captain and Assistant Quartermaster,^* 

Who is it that complains of the increased facilities of the new 
road? Who comes into court and claims to be aggrieved? It 
is the Camden and Amboy Railroad, and no other. 


I hold in my hand a book which ought to be called the Regis- 
ter of Greatness and Official Dignitaries, or rather the Blue 
Book of the State of New Jersey. It is a collection of the 
official reports of the Camden and Amboy monopoly from the 
formation of the company to the present time, and I venture to 
say that such another book cannot be found in America. The 
monopoly has taken New Jersey under its protection. It praises, 
admonishes, or censures New Jersey, according as she follows or 
disregards the standard of the Camden and Amboy monopoly's 
theory of political economy. I venture to say that a parallel to 
the records of this book cannot be found in the history of the 
republic. I will present some of the facts which it contains. 

In 1 846 the monopoly issued an address to the people of New 
Jersey. It tells them that New Jersey is vastly superior to her 
sister States in the management of public concerns ; it goes on 
to say that Pennsylvania and New York have foolishly expended 
money in public improvements and developing their material 
wealth, and then concludes, with an air of triumph, as follows : 
" New Jersey has no coal lands or salt springs to be converted 
into monopolies ; but she has a most enviable geographical po- 
sition in the Union, which it is her duty to improve for the 
benefit of her citizens. She has done so in the manner deemed 
most advisable and profitable, and has reason to be proud of 
the wisdom which dictated her policy." 

She has " improved her geographical position " by creating a 
sweeping monopoly, and taxing all freight and passengers be- 
tween the great commercial cities of Pennsylvania and New 
York. The monopoly congratulates New Jersey on her cunning 
device to raise taxes without cost to herself. 

This monopoly is sometimes as " 'umble " as Uriah Heep, and 
at others as proud as Lucifer. When it wants favors from the 
legislature of New Jersey, it is very humble ; but when the State 
wants favors from it, it is exceedingly haughty. In i860, the 
monopoly came before the country for a loan of $6,000,000. 
To secure it on reasonable terms it became necessary to exhibit 
the resources of the company. To do this, the company issued 
one of its proclamations to the people of New Jersey. Let it be 
remembered that this monopoly tells the people of New Jersey 
that it relies chiefly on New York and Philadelphia for the 
money it makes. It exhibits the condition of the joint com- 
panies as follows : — 


" I. The peculiar advantage of their geographical position. 2. The 
extent and number of railway lines now belonging to the joint companies, 
compared with their single line of sixty-one miles in 1834. 3. The reve- 
nues of the companies now, compared with the estimate of probable 
revenue in the infancy of their enterprise. 

" The cities of New York and Philadelphia, which are connected to- 
gether by our canal and railways, are still in advance of all other cities in 
the United States in wealth, population, and commercial advantages. It 
has been upon their growth and prosperity that we have chiefly relied for 
revenue and its progressive increase. This reliance has not been indulged 

"In 1834 the net income of the company was $450,000. By refer- 
ence to the annual sworn report of the State Directors, made in January, 
i860, to the legislature of New Jersey, it will be seen that the net in- 
come of the Camden and Amboy Railroad Company from their differ- 
ent through lines of railway was $91 1,242, and that of the canal company 
"^^ tzZSA^9\ in all, 1 1,246,371; being nearly three times greater in 
amount than the original estimates of income in 1834 

" The population of the United States doubles in a little over twenty- 
three years, and that of the cities of New York and Philadelphia in about 
eighteen years ; but the revenues of the joint companies increase in a 
ratio exceeding that of the increase of the population of New York and 
Riiladelphia ; and when in twenty-five years New York and Philadelphia 
may each contain two million people, and the United States sixty million, 
the annual revenues of the joint companies may be safely estimated at 

" It is no exaggeration to say, that there is not on the continent of 
North America any railway or canal franchise so valuable as that of the 
joint companies. They possess a capacious canal, itself worth more this 
day than the whole amount which we propose to borrow upon the secu- 
rity of the united companies. 

" They are proprietors likewise of one entire through line, and of two 
thirds of a second line of railway connecting two great cities, the com- 
mercial emporiums of the Western world. They have a controlling prop- 
erty also in a line of railway, more than one hundred miles in extent, 
reaching into the coal and iron fields of Pennsylvania, the products of 
which annually augment with the unbounded demand, which is ever in 
advance of their supply. 

" The interest of the State of New Jersey is identified with that of the 
joint companies, as we have said before, and she is relieved from the 
necessity of imposing any State tax by the ample revenue which she 
derives fix)m the companies. 

" New Jersey is distinguished for the conservative character of her 
people and her legislation ; and when her citizens have invested their 


capital in works designed for the public benefit, she has always refused 
to impair the value of franchise devoted to such objects by the creation 
of a rival. Efforts indeed have, within the past thirty years, been some- 
times made to induce the legislature of New Jersey to grant charters for 
rival railroads, but invariably without success. What could not be done 
when, in the infancy of the companies, the revenue of the State derived 
from them was small, need excite* no apprehensions now, when the whole 
expense of the State government is provided for from the income fur- 
nished by the business of our railroads and canal." 

Was ever anything so barefaced? The monopoly comes here 
boasting of wealth unprecedented, of rights and franchises un- 
paralleled, and of drawing its chief wealth from citizens outside 
of New Jersey, because that State has a geographical position 
which enables her to make money out of the cities of other 
States I And this is the party which comes here and asks us to 
forbid the Raritan road to exercise the right of transportation 
between New York and Philadelphia ! 

How have the joint companies managed their matters and 
made their money? The charter of their road prohibited them 
from charging more than three dollars for a passenger fare be- 
tween Philadelphia and New York, and yet from the year 1835 to 
1849 they charged four dollars in the face of the law. In 1842, 
however, the legislature of New Jersey determined that one half 
of all that the company charged above three dollars should be 
paid into the treasury of the State ; in other words, the State 
said to the company, " If you will steal, give us half the steal- 
ings ; we really cannot prevent you, but if you are bound to do 
it, give us half the proceeds." But they never did even that. 

I will call the attention of the House to another fact. This 
line of roads between New York and Philadelphia is ninety miles 
long, and the passenger fare is now three dollars. I desire to 
compare this with some other rates of fare as I find them quoted 
in a daily journal : New York to Philadelphia, 90 miles, $3 ; 
Hudson River to Rhinebeck, 91 miles, $1.80; Harlem to Albany, 
154 miles, $3 ; Erie to Port Jervis, 87 miles, $2.10; Lackawanna 
to Stroudsburg, 90 miles, $2.55 ; New Haven and Hartford to 
Meriden, 94 miles, $2.34; New Haven and New London to 
Guilford, 94 miles, $2.35. All these routes save one are longer 
than the Camden and Amboy, and some of them charge but a 
little more than half the fare. The road from Harlem to Albany 
is one hundred and fifty-four miles long, and charges just three 


dollars, while this New Jersey monopoly charges the same for 
ninety miles. 

The companies have violated all the common laws of whole- 
sale and retail trade. It is generally understood that a pound 
of coffee costs more pro rata than a thousand pounds. But if 
you travel ten miles in New Jersey, you are charged less per 
mile than if you travel ninety miles. The local rates within the 
limits of the State are not half so great as the through rates 
between New York and Philadelphia. It is by this kind of out- 
rageous violation of all the laws of trade that New Jersey has 
made money out of this country. 

Now what does this monopoly ask? Here is the prayer its 
attorney makes to the Chancellor of New Jersey : — 

" My first point was that the road had been used, by their own admis- 
sion, for the transportation of soldiers and munitions of wai ; the fact 
that they allege as an ample and sufficient excuse, is that this was done by 
order of the Secretary of War. I insist that, no matter by whose order it 
was done, it was a transportation of passenger and freight by railway 
across the State and between the cities, in every sense of the words. 
.... By which New Jersey is robbed of her tax of ten cents on each 
passenger. .... I say it is no defence whatever, if they have suc- 
ceeded in obtaining an order of the Secretary of War, when we call upon 
them to give us the money they made by it ; and that is one of our calls. 
Ihey have no right to get an order to deprive the State of New Jersey of 
the right of transit duty, which is her adopted policy." 

In other words^, this gigantic monopoly, that reaches into the 
heart of Pennsylvania and other States and draws its life-blood 
from them, demands that the new road, which has served the 
government in the transportation of troops and munitions of 
war, shall pay over all its earnings to its grasping rival. 

What answer did the Chancellor of New Jersey make to this 
demand? I have it here.^ He decided, in the first place, that 
the Raritan road is a legal structure from Camden to Port Mon- 
mouth, — from the western to the eastern line of the State. In 
the next place, that no passengers or freight shall be taken over 
it from Philadelphia to New York. What kind of a decision is 
that? Is not New Jersey thus legislating for New York and 
Philadelphia? She says that a man may go by this route from 
one border of the State to the other, but not beyond. The road 
is a legal one, but no man can pass over it and across the State 

1 See N. J Eq. Reports, i Green, 321-382. 



without robbing her of her ten cents tax ! That is the decision 
of New Jersey ; and if it is not legislation for New York and 
Pennsylvania, there can be no such thing as interference with 
the legislation of other States. Under the Chancellor's decision, 
the Raritan company has been compelled to instruct its agents 
to sell no tickets unless they know, of their own knowledge, that 
the party purchasing is not going through the State. The re- 
sult is to destroy at least one third of the local business ; but 
the company is compelled to do it to save itself from further 

It has been asked why this matter comes here. Because, 
in obeying the orders of the Secretary of War in transport- 
ing troops and munitions of war, the Raritan road has been 
wronged ; and it comes to the Congress of the nation for re- 
dress. The Military Committee has recommended that it shall 
have redress. 

I believe no gentleman here will deny that Congress has am- 
ple power to establish military and post roads, to maintain the 
government, and feed its armies. But there is another power 
which should not be overlooked. I mean the power to regulate 
commerce between the States. That power has been repeat- 
edly declared by the courts to reside exclusively in the Con- 
gress of the United States. It was so decided in Gibbons v, 
Ogden,^ in the Passenger Cases,^ and in the Wheeling Bridge 
Case.^ It is a decision so frequently made that no gentleman of 
any legal learning will risk his reputation by a* denial of it. 

But, Mr. Speaker, we have something more than the mere 
statement of the right. We have the admission of the State of 
New Jersey that Congress has this right ; and if any person or 
any power on earth may come in to deny it, New Jersey is by 
her own act forever estopped from making that denial. I call 
your attention to a law of New Jersey passed February 4, 183 1. 
In the sixth section of that act she says : — 

" Be it macted^ That when any other railroad, or roads, for the trans- 
portation of passengers and property between New York and Philadel- 
phia, across this State, shall be constructed and used for that purpose, 
under or by virtue of any law of this State or the United States^ author- 
izing or recognizing said road, that then and in that case the said divi- 
dends shall be no longer payable to the State, and the said stock shall be 
re-transferred to the company by the treasurer of this State." 

1 9 Wheaton, i. '7 Howard, 283. • 13 Howard, 518, and 18 Howard, 421. 


This law required the acceptance of the company to make it 
valid, and the company did accept it four days after its passage. 
A solemn compact — New Jersey is addicted to the use of that 
word — was thus made between the State and the company, 
that when Congress shall see fit to authorize and establish a 
road, or to recognize one already established, then the Camden 
and Amboy Company shall lose its special privileges. The 
parties not only admit that Congress may do it, but they unite 
in a solemn compact in which that very action of Congress is a 
condition. That, sir, is the thing I desire Congress now to do ; 
when it is done, the monopoly will be dead forever. 

New Jersey took another step in the same direction in 1854. 
She extended the monopoly charter ten years. The law by 
which it is extended is prefaced by a most extraordinary pre- 
amble, and that may be thus summed up : " Whereas the legis- 
lature of New Jersey has granted to the Camden and Amboy 
Railroad Company special and exclusive privileges, in consid- 
eration of," etc., etc *' And whereas the extinguishment 

of these privileges is a matter of great public importance: 
Therefore, Be it enacted," etc. 

Mark that ! The extinguishment of these privileges is a mat" 
ter of great public importance ; therefore we extend this monopoly 
for ten years ! I do not very much admire the logic of this 
law, but I do admire the preamble exceedingly. It acknowl- 
edges, by the voice of New Jersey, that it is a matter of great 
public concern that this exclusive privilege shall be extin- 
guished. I hope Congress will listen to the desire of New Jer- 
sey, and aid her in this good work. 

Since this bill has been before us, and since I last had the 
honor to address the House, we have heard from the Governor 
and the legislature of New Jersey in regard to this bill, I ask 
the indulgence of the House while I read some portions of the 
proclamation of his Excellency. 

" In the consideration of this question two inquiries naturally arise : 
First, would the proposed action of Congress, if consummated, affect the 
pecuniary interest of this State ? Secondly, and chiefly^ would such action 
in6inge upon the sovereignty of the State ? . . . . 

" It is for you to inquire whether the proposed action of Congress 
would affect the interest of the State in the stock, dividends, or transit 
duties derived from said companies. 

" But the pecuniary interest of the State is of litde importance in com- 


parison with the principle involved, and I therefore direct your attention 
particularly to the second inquiry, before mentioned. New Jersey is a 
sovereign State, and it is our duty, by every lawful means, to protect and 
defend her sovereignty, and to transmit unimpaired to posterity all her 
rights as they were received by her from our fathers. In the exercise of 
her rightful powers she may build, maintain, and manage lines of public 
travel within her territory, and she may grant to others the right to con- 
tract works under such regulations and upon such conditions as she may 
see fit to impose. When the States entered into the national compact 
they yielded to the general government the right to establish post-roads 
for the conveyance of mails, and power to construct military roads in 
time of war, for the purpose of transportation of troops ; but even these 
roads must be operated by the government, and not through the agency 
or for the benefit of private corporations. A law of Congress to exceed 
the powers granted by the States infringes upon the reserved rights, and 
detracts from the State legislatures a portion of their rightful authority. 

" Let it be distinctly understood by those who would inflict an indig- 
nity upon our State, that while New Jersey will comply with every legal 
obligation, and will respect and protect the rights of all, she will not per- 
mit any infringement of her rights without resorting to every lawful means 
to prevent it. 

" Joel Parker." 

Mr. Speaker, this lifls our subject above corporations and 
monopolies to the full height of a national question ; I might 
almost call it a question of loyalty or disloyalty. His Excel- 
lency will find his political doctrines much more ably and ele- 
gantly stated in Calhoun's nullification teachings of 1833, than 
in his own message. 

He says New Jersey is a sovereign State. I pause there for a 
moment. I believe that no man will ever be able to chronicle 
all the evils that have resulted to this nation from the abuse of 
the words " sovereign " and " sovereignty." What is this thing 
called "State Sovereignty"? Nothing more false was ever 
uttered in the halls of legislation than that any State of this 
Union is sovereign. Refresh your recollections of " sovereign- 
ty " as defined in the elementary text-books of law. Speaking 
of the sovereignty of nations, Blackstone says : " However they 
began, by what right so ever they subsist, there is and must be 
in all of them a supreme, irresistible, absolute, uncontrolled 
authority, in which the jura sutntni imperii, or rights of sover- 
eignty, reside." 

Do these elements belong to any State of this republic? 


Sovereignty has the right to declare war. Can New Jersey de- 
clare war? Sovereignty has the right to conclude peace. Can 
New Jersey conclude peace ? Sovereignty has the right to coin 
money. If the legislature of New Jersey should authorize 
and command one of its citizens to coin half a dollar, that 
man, if he obeyed, would be locked up in a felon's cell for the 
crime of counterfeiting the coin of the real sovereign. Sover- 
eignty makes treaties with foreign nations. Can New Jersey 
make treaties? Sovereignty regulates commerce with foreign 
States, and puts ships in commission upon the high seas. 
Should a ship set sail under the authority of New Jersey, it 
would be seized as a smuggler, forfeited, and sold. Sover- 
ignty has a flag. But, thank God ! New Jersey has no flag, 
Ohio has no flag. No loyal State fights under the " lone 
star," the " rattlesnake," or the " palmetto-tree." No loyal 
State has any flag but the " banner of beauty and glory," the 
flag of the Union. 

These are the indispensable elements of sovereignty. New 
Jersey has not one of them. The term can be applied only 
to the separate States in a very limited and restricted sense, 
referring mainly to municipal and police regulations. The 
rights of the States should be jealously guarded and defended. 
But to claim that sovereignty in its full sense and mean- 
ing belongs to the States, is nothing better than rankest 

Look again at this document of the Governor of New Jersey. 
He says the States entered into the national compact. National 
compact ! I had supposed that no Governor of a loyal State 
would parade this dead dogma of Nullification and Secession, 
which was buried by Webster on the i6th of February, 1833. 
There was no such thing as a sovereign State making a com- 
pact called a Constitution. The very language of the Consti- 
tution is decisive : " VVe, the people of the United States, do 
ordain and establish this Constitution." The States did not 
make a compact to be broken when any one pleased, but the 
people ordained and established the Constitution of a sovereign 
republic ; and woe be to any corporation or State that raises 
its hand against it! 

The message closes with a determination to resist the legisla- 
tion here proposed. This itself is another reason why I ask 
this Congress to exercise its right, and thus rebuke this spirit of 


nullification. The gentleman from Pennsylvania ^ tells us that 
New Jersey is a loyal State, and thousands of her citizens are 
in the army. I am proud of all the citizens of New Jersey 
who are fighting in our army. They are not fighting for New 
Jersey, nor for the Camden and Amboy monopoly, but for the 
Union, as against the nullification or rebellion of any State. 
Patriotic men of New Jersey in the army and at home are 
groaning under this tyrannical monopoly, and I hold it to 
be the high right and duty of this body to strike off their 

Congress has done similar work before. It did it in the 
case of the Wheeling Bridge across the Ohio. There is a still 
stronger case. A corporation spanned the Ohio River at Steu- 
benville under a charter granted by the State of Virginia, but 
with conditions appended which could not be fulfilled. The 
corporation came to Congress, and asked that the bridge might 
be declared a legal structure and part of a post-road. By sol- 
emn law Congress declared it to be a post-road; and no law 
of the State of Virginia or of the State of Ohio to the contrary 
can interfere with it. We have used this power hitherto, but 
we have never before been called upon to exercise it in any 
case so deserving as that which gave rise to this bill. 

^ Mr. Broomall. 



January 26, 1865. 

On the 8th of February, 1864, Mr. G. H. Pendleton introduced into 
the House of Representatives a joint resolution to provide that the heads 
of the Executive Departments might occupy seats on the floor of that 
body, which was twice read, and referred to a select committee of 
seven. April 6, the measure came back from the committee amended, 
and accompanied by majority and minority reports. Then the subject 
was recommitted to the committee, and a motion to reconsider the 
recommitment entered. May 30, the special committee was, by resolu- 
tion, continued during the present Congress. At the next session, the 
subject was discussed on the motion to reconsider. The resolution as 
amended contained these sections : — 

" That the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secre- 
tary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, the Secretary of the Interior, 
the Attorney- General, and the Postmaster- General, shall be entitled to 
occupy seats on the floor of the House of Representatives, with the right 
to participate in debate upon matters relating to the business of their 
respective Departments, under such rules as may be prescribed by the 

" That the said Secretaries, the Attorney- General, and the Postmaster- 
General shall attend the sessions of the House of Representatives, im- 
mediately on the opening of the sittings on Mondays and Thursdays of 
each week, to give information in reply to questions which may be 
propounded to them under the rules of the House." 

The Committee also recommended certain amendments to the Rules 
of the House, deemed necessary to carry the above provisions into effect 
(see Congressional Globe, January 25, 1865). The next day Mr. Gar- 
field delivered the following speech, in immediate reply to Mr. S. S. Cox, 
of Ohio. On March 3, the resolution was laid aside informally, and no 
action was had. 


MR. SPEAKER, — I will not detain the House long on this 
subject. I know how difficult it is to get the attention 
of members to the consideration of a grave measure when they 
have just attended a place of amusement. I know how ungrate- 
ful a task it is to attempt to recall their attention after the ex- 
hibition to which the gentleman from Ohio ^ has treated them. 
The gentleman's speech sufficiently proves that he has read his 
law on the subject from Sergeant Buzfuz, and his constitutional 
and legislative history from Tittlebat Titmouse, to whom he has 
just referred ; for certainly the history of legislation, as reflected 
in the Journals of Congress, gives no support to his position. 

I am glad, Mr. Speaker, that we can, for once, approach the 
discussion of a measure on its own merits, uninfluenced by any 
mere party considerations. I wish we might, in the discussion 
of this subject, be equally free from that international jealousy, 
that hereditary hatred, so frequently and unreasonably mani- 
fested against Great Britain. I have noticed on the faces of 
members of the House a smile of satisfaction when any speaker 
has denounced the proposal to copy any custom of, or borrow 
any experience from, the government of England. No man on 
this floor is more desirous than myself to see this republic 
stand erect among the nations, and grant to and exact from 
Great Britain equal justice. I fully appreciate how little friend- 
ship she has shown us in our great national struggle, yet I will 
not allow my mind to be so prejudiced as not to see the great- 
ness, the glory, and the excellence of the British constitution. 
I believe that, next to our own, the constitution of Great Britain 
stands highest for its wisdom and its security to freedom of all 
the constitutions of the civilized world ; and in some respects 
it is equal or superior to our own. It does not become us, 
therefore, to set it aside as unworthy of our study, of our care- 
ful observation. Gentlemen should not forget that, in the days 
of George III., England, as well as America, emancipated herself 
from the tyranny of kingly prerogative; and it may be well 
questioned whether the two streams that sprung from that great 
struggle have not been flowing in parallel channels of equal 
depth and greatness, one on this continent and the other in the 
British islands. It may well be doubted whether there is not as 
much popular freedom in the kingdom of Great Britain as in 

* Mr. Cox. 


this republic, and more Parliamentary security. A gentleman 
who has lately crossed the sea, a man of great ability and a 
philosophic observer, has said to-day that the British ministry 
is nothing more or less than " a committee of the House of 
Commons." I believe that he describes it correctly. I believe 
that no nation has a ministry so susceptible to the breath of 
popular opinion, so readily influenced and so completely con- 
trolled by popular power, as is the ministry of Great Britain by 
the House of Commons. Let one decisive vote be given against 
the plans of that ministry, and it is at once dissolved. It exists 
by the will of the House of Commons. How does this come 
about? From the fact that, at the very time that we emanci- 
pated ourselves from the kingly prerogatives of George III., 
Parliamentary reforms in Great Britain emancipated that nation 
and established Parliamentary liberty in England. It does not, 
therefore, become gentlemen to appeal to our ancient preju- 
dices, so that we may not learn anything from that great and 
wise system of government adopted by our neighbors across 
the sea. 

In the consideration of this question I shall touch upon three 
leading points: first, the precedents from our own history; 
second, the constitutionality of the proposed measure, as ex- 
hibited in the early discussions and laws; and third, the policy 
of the measure. 

The precedents cited by the gentleman from Ohio,^ the chair- 
man of the select committee, in his very able report, estab- 
lish beyond all question that, in the early days of the republic 
under the Constitution, the heads of Departments did come 
upon the floor of Congress and make communications. No 
man, I believe, has denied that; I think no gentleman can suc- 
cessfully deny it. My friend from Vermont,^ if I understand 
him, denies that they did more than to meet the Senate in execu- 
tive session. I am glad to see that the gentleman assents to my 
statement of his position. I will now cite two examples where 
the head of a Department came on the floor of the House and 
made statements. If the gentleman will turn to the first volume 
of the Annals of Congress, he will find the following entry 
under date of August 7, 1789: "The following message was 
received from the President of the United States by General 
Knox, the Secretary of War, who delivered therewith sundry 

1 Mr. Pendleton. 2 Mr. Morrill. 


statements." ^ Some gentlemen may say those statements were 
in writing. I ask them to listen a little further : " who deliv- 
ered therewith sundry statements and papers relating to the 
same." So the Secretary of War came to the House of Repre- 
sentatives and made statements. 

Mr. Morrill. I will say to the gentleman from Ohio, that I take 
that to mean nothing more than what the private secretary of the Presi- 
dent now does every day. At that time the President of the United 
States had no private secretary, but he used the members of the Cabinet 
for that purpose, and for that purpose here only. 

I should like to ask my friend from Vermont whether the 
private secretary of the President makes any statements except 
the mere announcement of the message which he delivers? 

Mr. Morrill. I take it that that was all that was contemplated 
then. We daily have communications from the President, containing 
more than one document, statement, or paper. 

My friend from Vermont has assisted me. He now makes 
the point that the expression " statements," here referred to, is 
merely the announcement of a message. I call his attention to 
the second case which I will cite from the same volume. On 
the loth of August, 1789, the President sent in a message by 
the hands of General Knox, " who delivered the same, together 
with a statement of the troops in the service of the United 
States."^ He made to the House of Representatives statements 
about troops in the service, so that the statements referred to 
are not merely statements of the fact that he delivered a mes- 
sage from the President. 

Mr. Morrili- I do not like to interrupt the gentleman from Ohio, 
but I must insist that his second instance does not prove the fact which 
he assumes. He will find, if he will proceed further on in the same 
volume, that when the question came up distinctly upon allowing the 
Secretary of the Treasury to come in here for once, and once only, it 
was then declared that it would be setting a new precedent, one which 
they could not tolerate, and which they did not tolerate, but voted down 
after discussion. 

The gentleman has helped to pioneer my way handsomely 
thus far. I shall consider the very example to which he refers, 
and which I have examined with some care, under my second 
point, — the discussions in the Congress of the United States 

1 Page 709. » Page 716. 


touching the constitutionality of the proposed law. There were 
discussions at five different periods in* the history of Congress, 
and only five, so far as I have found, touching this general 

The first occurred in the First Congress, when it was pro- 
posed to establish executive departments. On the 19th of May, 
1789, Mr. Boudinot, of New Jersey, moved that the House pro- 
ceed, pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution, to estab- 
lish executive departments of the government, the chief officers 
thereof to be removable at the will of the President. Under 
that resolution arose a full discussion of the nature of the offices 
to be created, by whom the officers were to be appointed, and 
by whom removed. The discussion covers forty or fifty pages 
of the volume before me, and embraces some of the very ablest 
expositions of the Constitution to be found in the early annals 
of Congress. After this long discussion the following results 
were arrived at, which will answer some of the points just made 
by my colleague from Ohio.^ First, it was decided that the 
departments were to be established by Congress, and the duties 
and general scope of powers vested therein were to be estab- 
lished by law ; but the incumbents of these offices were to be 
appointed by the President, and removed at his pleasure. It 
was clearly determined, in the second place, that these officers 
could be removed in two ways : first, by the President ; second, 
by impeachment in the usual modes prescribed in the Consti- 
tution. It was thus settled, in this great discussion, not, as is 
said by my colleague who has just taken his seat, that Cabinet 
ministers are the creatures of the President and responsible to 
him alone, but that their very Departments and their whole 
organization depend in every case upon the law of Congress, 
and they are themselves subject to impeachment for neglect of 
their duties, or violation of their obligations, in those offices. 

The second discussion occurred in the same year when the 
Treasury Department was established, and in that instance the 
discussion became more precise and critical, bearing more 
nearly upon the particular question now before us. A clause 
was introduced into the law establishing the Treasury Depart- 
ment, providing that the Secretary of the Treasury should be 
directed to prepare plans for the redemption of the public debt, 
and for all the different measures relating to his Department; 

1 Mr. Cox. 
VOL. I 5 


and " that he shall make report, and give information to either 
branch of the Legislature, in person or in writing, as may be 
required, respecting all matters referred to him by the Senate 
or House of Representatives, or which shall appertain to his 
office." The debate took a very wide range. It was objected 
by several members that the provision was unconstitutional, on 
the ground that the House was the only power authorized to 
originate money bills, and that such an enactment would put 
that power in the hands of the Secretary of the Treasury. A 
very long discussion ensued on what was meant by ** originating 
a bill." Some contended that to draft a bill was to originate 
it; others, that no proposed measure was a "bill" until the 
House had passed it ; while others again said that it was a bill 
whenever the House authorized it to be introduced. Finally it 
was determined that there wai& nothing incompatible with the 
Constitution in allowing the Secretary of the Treasury to report 
plans and prepare drafts of bills. It was thus settled, and has 
been the policy of the government till the present day, that the 
Secretary of the Treasury may properly draft bills and prepare 
plans and present them to Congress. And it is still a part of 
pur law, — I have the provision before me, — ** that the Secre- 
tary of the Treasury shall make report, and give information 
to either branch of the Legislature, in person or in writing, 
as may be required." Let it be understood that in the First 
Congress of the United States a law was passed, — approved, 
Sept. 2, 1789, by George Washington, acted upon before in 
the House and in the Senate by the men who framed the 
' Constitution, — which law provided that it should be the duty 
of the Secretary of the Treasury to report his plans in writing 
or in person, as either House might require. 

Mr. Morrill. I desire to ask the gentleman a question. When the 
Secretary had made out his plan in pursuance of the resolution by which 
he was authorized to make it, did not the House, on the very first occa- 
sion when it could take action on the subject, distinctly discuss the ques- 
tion, and refuse him the privilege of reporting in person ? 

I am coming, in a moment, to that precise point. The whole 
question of the undue influence which it might give to the 
executive Departments to allow Cabinet officers to make their 
reports was fully examined ; and after the fullest and freest dis- 
cussion, which, even in a condensed form, covers some twenty 


pages of the book before me, the measure was passed without 
even a division, and became the law of the land. 

I now come to the point to which the gentleman from Ver- 
mont has referred, — the third of the five discussions. On the 
9th of January, 1790, the House received a communication 
from the Secretary of the Treasury stating that, in obedience 
to their resolution of the 21st of September previous, he had 
prepared a draft of a plan for funding the public debt, and was 
ready, at their pleasure, to report, — it being settled in the law, 
as I have already said, that he should report in person or in 
writing, as he might be directed. The question was discussed, 
as the gentleman from Vermont noticed in his examination of 
the case yesterday. Mr. Gerry moved that the report should 
be made in writing. The question, whether it should be made 
in writing or orally was discussed, and the chief argument used 
in the case was, that it would be impossible for members of 
Congress to understand it unless it was reduced to writing, so 
that they could have it before them. It was also said that the 
scope and bearing of the whole report would be so extensive 
that the human mind could not comprehend the whole of it, 
unless they could have it before them in a permanent shape. 
It was conceded by several who spoke, that the House could 
have the report made in writing, or orally, or in writing with 
accompanying oral explanations. The constitutional doubt was 
not suggested in that discussion. It was decided, without a 
division, not that the Secretary should not be permitted to come 
into the House, but that his report should be in writing. The 
law still stood, as it now stands, that he shall report in person 
or in writing, as either House may direct. 

The fourth discussion related to the defeat of General St. 
Clair. I will remind the House of the history of that case. In 
1791, St. Clair was ordered to lead an expedition against the 
Indians in the Northwestern Territory ; his army was disgrace- 
fully defeated ; the case was referred to General Washington, 
who declined to order a court of inquiry; and the subject was 
taken up in the House of Representatives, and on the 27th of 
March, 1792, a committee was ordered to inquire into the causes 
of the failure of the expedition. On the 8th of May following, 
the committee made a report which reflected severely upon the 
Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of War. On the 
13th of November, 1792, a resolution was introduced into the 


House to notify the two Secretaries that on the following 
Wednesday the House would take the report into consideration, 
and that they might attend. After a considerable discussion, 
the resolution was negatived, and it was resolved to empower 
a special committee of the House to send for persons and 
papers in the case. On the following day the Secretary of 
War, General Knox, addressed a letter to the Speaker of the 
House, asking an opportunity to vindicate himself before the 
House. It was said by the gentleman from Vermont, yesterday, 
that General Knox was not permitted to come in. A discussion 
of the subject followed the presentation of his request. The 
House had not been satisfied with the report, and recommitted 
it to the committee for further examination. After the recom- 
mitment of the report, the Secretaries were brought before the 
committee and examined, so that their testimony reached the 
House in that mode. The question was never put to the House 
whether they would or would not receive the Secretaries in the 
House, but whether they should adopt the report, or recommit 
it and order the committee to take further testimony. They 
did the latter. The proposition to admit them to the House 
was not directly acted upon at all. 

Before leaving this branch of the subject I must refer to the 
opinion of Mr. Madison as expressed in the debate of Novem- 
ber 13, 1792, on the question of admitting the Secretaries to the 
House to take part in the investigation of St. Clair. This was 
the only quotation, I believe, which the gentleman from Ver- 
mont found to apply directly to the point at issue. It is true 
that Mr. Madison did say he objected to the House resolution 
on constitutional grounds.^ But he did not state what those 
constitutional grounds were. It is a little remarkable that he 
who had in 1789 spoken and voted for the Treasury Act au- 
thorizing the Secretary to report in person or in writing, as 
either House might direct, should declare only three years later 
that it was unconstitutional to let the Secretary come before the 
House to give information or testimony. Perhaps, sir, a little 
light from history will help to explain Mr. Madison's singular 
position. My friend from Vermont will remember that within 
those three years Mr. Madison and Mr. Hamilton had become 
seriously alienated from each other, and the gifted authors of 
the Federalist were friends no longer. The great party strife 

^ See Annals, Second Congress, p. 680. 


had begun, and they had taken opposite sides, Mr. Jefferson 
leading one party, Mr. Madison following; and, Mr. Hamilton 
leading the other, his friends, the Federalists, following him. It 
is not, therefore, very surprising that Mr. Madison should have 
been influenced, like others, by personal feeling, or at least by 
his political differences with the Secretary of the Treasury. It 
is well known that his political opinions were greatly changed 
by the influence of Mr. Jefferson. 

The fifth and last discussion to which I shall refer occurred 
on the 19th of November,* 1792, on a resolution of the House 
directing the Secretary of the Treasury to report a plan for the 
reduction of the public debt. The question of the constitu- 
tionality of his reporting a plan at all, again arose. The whole 
ground was again gone over. Notwithstanding Madison's rec- 
ord in 1789, he opposed the resolution; but it was passed 
against him by the decisive vote of thirty-one to twenty-five. 
So that even down to that day, after parties had taken their 
groundi-'after Madison and Hamilton had become antagonistic, 
after all the fierceness of personal feeling was awakened, still 
the House determined that the law should stand as it was 
enacted by the First Congress. 

As the result of all these discussions, the custom obtained to 
receive reports and information from the heads of Departments 
in writing rather than in person. That custom has now almost 
the force of law. But while the Treasury Act of 1789 remains 
on our statute-book, we have a clear right to change the cus- 
tom. I claim that, by a simple resolution of the House of Rep- 
resentatives alone, we can now call the Secretary of the Treasury 
here to explain in person any plan or measure of his, and he is 
bound to come. The Senate can do the same for itself. The 
very law which establishes his office and builds up his Depart- 
ment makes it obligatory upon him to come when thus ordered. 
This is true only of the Secretary of the Treasury. 

I hold it, then, fairly established, that the measure before us 
is clearly within the scope of our constitutional powers ; that it 
is only a question how a thing shall be done, the thing to be 
done being already provided by law. The heads of Depart- 
ments do now make known their plans and views ; they do now 
communicate to the House all that this resolution contemplates 
that they shall communicate. It is only a question of mode. 
They now communicate with the pen. This resolution proposes 


to add the tongue to the pen, the voice to the document, the 
explanation to the text, and nothing more. It is simply a 
proposition to add to our facilities by having the Secretaries 
here to explain orally what they have already transmitted in 
documentary form. 

And this brings me to the third and last point that I propose 
to examine in this discussion, — the policy of the proposed 
change, on which, I admit, there is much room for difference of 
opinion. The committee have given a very exhaustive state- 
ment of its advantages in their report, and I will only enlarge 
upon a few points in their statement. 

And, first of all, the proposed change will increase our facili- 
ties for full and accurate information as the basis of legislative 
action. There are some gentlemen here who doubt whether we 
have a right to demand information from the heads of Depart- 
ments. Do we get that information as readily, as quickly, and as 
fully as we need it? Let me read an extract illustrative of the 
present plan. The President of the United States, in his last 
annual message to Congress, says : " The Report of the Sec- 
retary of War, and accompanying documents, will detail the 
campaigns of the armies in the field since the date of the last 
annual message, and also the operations of the several adminis- 
trative bureaus of the War Department during the last year. 
It will also specify the measures deemed essential for the national 
defence, and to keep up and supply the requisite military force." 
Has that report been received ? This message was delivered to 
us at the commencement of the present session; we are now 
within five weeks of its close ; but to this hour we have had no 
report from the Secretary of War, no official advice from him in 
reference to the " measures deemed essential for the national 
defence, and to keep up and supply the requisite military force." 
We have been working in the dark, and it is only as we have 
reconnoitred the War Department, and forced ourselves in 
sidewise and edgewise, that we have been able to learn what is 
considered essential for the national defence. Had this resolu- 
tion been in force, we should long ago have had his report in 
our hands, or his good and sufficient reason for withhold- 
ing it. 

I call the attention of the House to the fact, that our table 
is groaning under the weight of resolutions asking information 
from the several Departments that have not been answered. 


Who does not remember that, at a very early day of the session, 
a resolution, introduced by a member from Indiana,^ was unan- 
imously adopted, asking why the order of the House had been 
neglected, and we had not been furnished with the information ? 
But this also has fallen a brutum fulmen ; we have received no 
answer. Could these things be, if the members of the legisla- 
tive and executive departments were sitting in council together? 
Should we not long ago have had the information, or known 
the reason why we did not have it? 

On the subject of information, I have a word more to say. 
We want information more in detail than we can get by the 
present mode. For example, it would have aided many of us, 
a few days since, when the Loan Bill was under consideration, 
if the Secretary of the Treasury had been here to tell us pre- 
cisely what he intended in regard to an increase of the volume 
of the currency under the provisions of the bill. We want to 
understand each other thoroughly; and when this is done, it 
will remove a large share of the burdens of legislation. 

One other point on the policy of the measure. I want this 
joint resolution passed to readjust the relations between the 
executive and legislative departments, and to readjust them so 
that there shall be greater responsibility to the legislative de- 
partment than there now is, and that that responsibility shall 
be made to rest with greater weight upon the shoulders of the 
executive authority. I am surprised that both the gentleman 
from Vermont and the gentleman from Ohio declare that this 
measure would aggrandize the executive authority. I must say 
that, to me, it is one objection to this plan, that it may have 
exactly the opposite effect. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that the 
fame of Jefferson is waning, and the fame of Hamilton wax- 
ing, in the estimation of the American people, and that we 
are gravitating towards a stronger government I am glad we 
are, and I hope this measure will cause the heads of Depart- 
ments to become so thoroughly acquainted with the details of 
their office as to compensate for the restrictions imposed upon 
them. Who does not know that the enactment of this law will 
tend to bring our ablest men into the Cabinet of the republic? 
Who does not know that, if a man is to be responsible for his 
executive acts, and also be able to tell why he proposes new 
measures, and to comprehend intelligently the whole scope of 

1 Mr. Holman. 


his duties, weak men will shrink from taking such places? 
Who does not know that it will call out the best talent of the 
land, both executive and parliamentary? What is the fact now? 
I venture to assert, that the mass of our executive information 
comes from the heads of bureaus, or perhaps from the chief 
clerks of bureaus, or other subordinates unknown to the legisla- 
tive body. I would have it, that, when these men bring infor- 
mation before us, they shall themselves be possessed of the last 
items of that information, so that they can explain them as 
fully as the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means 
ever explains his measures when he offers them to the House. 

One more word, Mr. Speaker. Instead of seeing the picture 
which the gentleman from Ohio^ has painted to attract our 
minds from the subject-matter itself to the mere gaudiness of 
his farcical display, instead of seeing that unworthy and un- 
manly exhibition in this House which he has described, I would 
see in its place the executive heads of the government giving 
information to, and consulting with, the representatives of the 
people in an open and undisguised way. Sir, the danger to 
American liberty is not from open contact with departments, 
but from that unseen, intangible influence which characterizes 
courts, crowns, and cabinets. Who does not know, and who 
does not feel, how completely the reason of a member may be 
stultified by the written dictum of some head of Department, 
that he thinks a measure good or bad, wise or unwise? I want 
that head of Department to tell me why ; I want him to appeal 
to my reason, and not lecture me ex catkedrUy and desire me to 
follow his lead just because he leads. I do not believe in any 
prescriptive right to determine what legislation shall be. No, 
sir; it is the silent, secret influence that saps and undermines 
the fabric of republics, and not the open appeal, the collision 
between intellects, the array of facts. 

I hope, Mr. Speaker, that this measure will be fairly con- 
sidered. If it do not pass now, the day will come, I believe, 
when it will pass. When that day comes, I expect to see a 
higher type of American statesmanship, not only in the Cabinet, 
but also in the legislative halls. 

1 Mr. Cox. 



January 13, 1865. 

February 10, 1864, Mr. Lyman Trambull, of Illinois, reported to the 
Senate, from the Committee on the Judiciary, this Joint Resolution : — 

" Be it resolved, etc., etc.. That the following article be proposed to the 
Legislatures of the several States as an amendment to the Constitution 
of the United States, which, when ratified by three fourths of said Legis- 
latures, shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as a part of the said 
Constitution, namely : — 

"Article XIII. Sect. i. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, 
except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been 
duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject 
to their jurisdiction. 

"Sect. 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appro- 
priate legislation." 

April 8 following, this resolution passed the Senate. June 15, it was 
rejected in the House. The same day, a motion to reconsider the vote 
was entered. At the next session, January 6, 1865, ^^^ motion to recon- 
sider was taken up and discussed at length. On this motion, January 13, 
Mr. Garfield made the speech that follows. The 31st of the same month 
the question to reconsider carried, and the same day the resolution was 
adopted. December 18, 1865, the Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, issued 
his certificate to the effect that, the requisite number of States having 
ratified the proposed amendment, it had become valid to all mtents and 
purposes as a part of the Constitution of the United States. 

MR. SPEAKER, — We shall never know why slavery dies so 
hard in this republic and in this hall till we know why sin 
has such longevity and Satan is immortal. With marvellous 
tenacity of existence, it has outlived the expectations of its 


friends and the hopes of its enemies. It has been declared here 
and elsewhere to be in all the several stages of mortality, — 
wounded, dying, dead. The question was raised by my col- 
league^ yesterday whether it was indeed dead, or only in a 
troubled sleep. I know of no better illustration of its condition 
than is found in Sallust's admirable history of the great conspir- 
ator Catiline, who, when his final battle was fought and lost, his 
army broken and scattered, was found, far in advance of his own 
troops, lying among the dead enemies of Rome, yet breathing a 
little, but exhibiting in his countenance all that ferocity of spirit 
which had characterized his life. So, sir, this body of slavery 
lies before us among the dead enemies of the republic, mortally 
wounded, impotent in its fiendish wickedness, but with its old 
ferocity of look, bearing the unmistakable marks of its infernal 

Who does not remember that thirty years ago — a short period 
in the life of a nafion — but little could be said with impunity in 
these halls on the subject of slavery? How well do gentlemen 
here remember the history of that distinguished predecessor of 
mine, Joshua R. Giddings, lately gone to his rest, who, with his 
forlorn hope of faithful men, took his life in his hand, and in the 
name of justice protested against the great crime, and who stood 
bravely in his place until his white locks, like the plume of 
Henry of Navarre, marked where the battle for freedom raged 
fiercest ! We can hardly realize that this is the same people, 
and these the same halls, where now scarcely a man can be 
found who will venture to do more than falter out an apology 
for slavery, protesting in the same breath that he has no love for 
the dying tyrant None, I believe, but that man of more than 
supernal boldness from the city of New York,^ has ventured, this 
session, to raise his voice in favor of slavery for its own sake. 
He still sees in its features the reflection of beauty and divinity, 
and only he. " How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, 
son of the morning ! How art thou cut down to the ground, 
which didst weaken the nations ! " Many mighty men have 
been slain by thee ; many proud ones have humbled themselves 
at thy feet. All along the coast of our political sea these vic- 
tims of slavery lie like stranded wrecks, broken on the headlands 
of freedom. How lately did its advocates, with impious bold- 
ness, maintain it as God's own, to be venerated and cherished as 

1 Mr. Cox. a Mr. Wood. 


divine ! It was another and higher form of civilization. It was 
the holy evangel of America dispensing its mercies to a benighted 
race, and destined to bear countless blessings to the wilder- 
ness of the West. In its mad arrogance, it lifted its hand to 
strike down the fabric of the Union, and since that fatal day it 
has been a " fugitive and a vagabond in the earth." Like the 
spirit that Jesus cast out, it has, since then, been " seeking rest 
and finding none." It has sought in all the corners of the 
republic to find some hiding-place in which to shelter itself from 
the death it so richly deserves. It sought an asylum in the 
untrodden territories of the West, but with a whip of scorpions 
indignant freemen drove it thence. I do not believe that a loyal 
man can now be found who would consent that it should again 
enter them. It has no hope of harbor there. It found no pro- 
tection or favor in the hearts or consciences of the freemen of 
the republic, and has fled for its last hope of safety behind the 
shield of the Constitution. We propose to 'follow it there, and 
drive it thence, as Satan was exiled from heaven. But now, in 
the hour of its mortal agony, in this hall, it has found a 

My gallant colleague^ (for I recognize him as a gallant and 
able man) plants himself at the door of his darling, and bids de- 
fiance to all assailants. He has followed slavery in its flight, 
until at last it has reached the great temple where liberty is en- 
shrined, the Constitution of the United States ; and there, in that 
last retreat, declares that no hand shall strike it. He reminds 
me of that celebrated passage in the great Latin poet in which 
the serpents of the sea, when they had destroyed Laocoon and 
his sons, fled to the heights of the Trojan citadel, and coiled 
their slimy lengths around the feet of the tutelar goddess, and 
were covered by the orb of her shield. So, under the guidance 
of my colleague, slavery, gorged with the blood of ten thousand 
freemen, has climbed to the high citadel of American nationality, 
and coiled itself securely, as he believes, around the feet of the 
statue of Justice and under the shield of the Constitution of the 
United States. We desire to follow it even there, and kill it 
beside the very altar of liberty. Its blood can never make 
atonement for the least of its crimes. 

But the gentleman has gone further. He is not content that 
the snaky sorceress shall be merely wider the protection of the 

1 Mr. Pendleton. 


Constitution. In his view, by a strange metamorphosis, slavery 
becomes an invisible essence, and takes up its abode in the very 
grain and fibre of the Constitution ; and when we would strike 
it, he says : " I cannot point out any express clause that prohibits 
you from destroying slavery; but I find a prohibition in the 
intent and meaning of the Constitution, t go under the surface, 
out of sight, into the very genius of it, and in that invisible 
domain slavery is enshrined, and there is no power in the republic 
to drive it thence." That I may do no injustice to my colleague, 
I will read from his speech of day before yesterday the passage 
to which I refer : — 

"My colleague from the Toledo district,^ in the speech which he 
made the other day, told us, with reference to this point : * If I read the 
Constitution aright, and understand the force of language, the section 
which I have just quoted is to-day free from all limitations and condi- 
tions save two, one of which provides that the suffrage of the several 
States in tlie Senate shall be equal, and that no State shall lose this 
equality by any amendment of the Constitution without its consent; 
the other relates to taxation. These are the only conditions and limita- 
tions.* I deny it. I assert that there is another limitation stronger even 
than the letter of the Constitution ; and that is to be found in its intent, 
and its spirit, and its foundation idea. I put the question which has 
been put before in this debate : Can three fourths of the States constitu- 
tionally change this government, and make it an autocracy ? It is not 

prohibited by the letter of the Constitution It does not come 

within the two classes of limitations and conditions asserted by my 
colleague. Why is it that this change cannot be made ? I will tell you 
why. It is because republicanism lies at the very foundation of our 
system of government, and to overthrow that idea is not to amend, but 
to subvert the Constitution of the United States ; and I say that if three 
fourths of the States should undertake to pass an amendment of that 
kind, and Rhode Island alone dissented, she would have the right to 
resist by force. It would be her duty to resist by force ; and her cause 
would be sacred in the eyes of just men, and sanctified in the eyes of a 
just God.'' 2 

Jefferson Davis and his fellow-conspirators will ask for no bet- 
ter defence of their rebellion. South Carolina will ask no more 
than to be placed in the same category with Rhode Island — in 
the gentleman's argument. South Carolina being her own judge, 
her cause is " sacred in the eyes of just men, and sanctified in 
the eyes of a just God." He goes behind the letter of the Con- 

1 Mr. Ashley. ^ Congressional Globe, Jan. ii, 1865, pp. 221, 222. 


stitution, and finds a refuge for slavery in its intent ; and with 
that intent he declares that we have no right to deal in the way 
of amendment. 

But he has gone even deeper than the spirit and intent of the 
Constitution. He has announced a discovery to which I am 
sure no other statesman will lay claim. He has found a domain 
where slavery can no more be reached by human law than the 
hfe of Satan by the sword of Michael. He has marked the 
hither boundary of this newly discovered continent, in his 
response to the question of the gentleman from lowa.^ I will 
read it : "I will not be drawn now into a discussion with the 
gentleman as to the origin of slavery, nor to the law which lies 
behind the Constitution of the United States, and behind the 
governments of the States, by which these people are held in 
slavery." Not finding anything in the words and phrases of 
the Constitution that forbids an amendment abolishing slavery, 
he goes behind all human enactments, and far away, among the 
eternal equities, he finds a primal law which overshadows states, 
nations, and constitutions, as space envelops the universe, and by 
its solemn sanctions one human being can hold another in per- 
petual slavery. Surely human ingenuity has never gone farther 
to protect a malefactor or defend a crime. ^ I shall make no 
argument with my colleague on this point; for in that high court 
to which he appeals eternal justice dwells with freedom, and 
slavery has never entered. 

I now turn to the main point of his argument. He has given 
us the key to his theory of the Constitution in the three words 
which the gentleman from Rhode Island ^ commented upon last 
evening. Upon those words rests the strength or weakness of 
his position. He describes the Constitution of the United States 
as a ** compact of confederation." If I understand the gentleman, 
he holds that each State is sovereign ; that in their sovereign 
capacity, as the source and fountain of power, the States, each 
for itself, ratified the Constitution which the Convention had 
framed. What powers they did not grant they reserved. They 
did not grant to the Federal government the right to control 
the subject of slavery. That right still resides in the States 
severally. Hence no amendment of the Constitution by three 
fourths of the States can legally affect slavery in the remaining 
fourth. Hence no amendment by the modes pointed out in 

1 Mr. Wilson. i Mr. Jenckcs. 


the Constitution can reach it. This, I believe, is a succinct and 
just statement of his argument The whole question turns upon 
the sovereignty of the States. Are they sovereign and inde- 
pendent now ? Were they ever so ? I shall endeavor to answer. 
I appeal to the facts of history, and, to bring them clearly before 
us, I affirm : — 

I. That prior to the 4th of July, 1776, the Colonies were 
neither free nor independent. Their sovereignty was lodged 
in the Crown of Great Britain. I believe no man will deny 
this. It was admitted in the first Declaration of Rights, put 
forth by the Revolutionary Congress that, in 1 774, assembled 
in Philadelphia to pray for a redress of grievances. That 
body expressly admitted that the sovereignty of the Colonies 
was lodged in the Crown of Great Britain. It has been taught 
by Jay and Story, and has been so decided by the Supreme 
Court of the United States.^ 

II. On the 4th of July, 1776, the sovereignty was withdrawn 
from the British Crown, by the whole people of the Colonies, 
and lodged in the Revolutionary Congress. No Colony de- 
clared itself free and independent. Neither Virginia, New York, 
nor Massachusetts declared itself free and independent of the 
Crown of Great Britain. The declaration was made not even 
by all the Colonies as colonies, but in the name and by the au- 
thority of "the good people of these Colonies," as one people. 
In the following memorable declaration the sovereignty was 
transferred from the Crown of Great Britain to \ii^ people of the 
Colonies : — 

" We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, 
in General Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the 
world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the 
authority of the good people of these Colonies, solemnly publish and 
declare that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free 
and independent States ; that they are absolved fix)m all allegiance to 
the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and 
the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved ; and that 
as free and independent States they have fuU power to levy war, con- 
clude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other 
acts and things which independent states may of right do." 

In vindication of this view, I read from Justice Story's Com- 
mentaries on the Constitution : — 

^ See Chisholm v. State of Georgia, 2 Dallas, 419. 


" The Colonies did not severally act for themselves and proclaim their 
own independence. It is true that some of the states had previously 
formed incipient governments for themselves, but it was done in com- 
pliance with the recommendations of Congress The declaration 

of independence of all the Colonies was the united act of all. It was 
* a declaration by the representatives of the United States of America in 
Congress assembled * ; * by the delegates appointed by the good people 
of the Colonies/ as in a prior declaration of rights they were called. It 
was not an act done by the State governments then organized ; nor by 
persons chosen by them. It was emphatically the act of the whole 
people of the United Colonies, by the instrumentality of their representa- 
tives, chosen for that among other purposes. It was not an act compe- 
tent to the State governments, or any of them, as organized under their 
charters, to adopt Those charters neither contemplated the case nor 
provided for it. It was an act of original inherent sovereignty by the 
people themselves, resulting from their right to change the fonp of gov- 
ernment, and to institute a new one whenever necessary for their safety 
and happiness. So the Declaration of Independence treats it. No 
State had presumed of itself to form a new government, or to provide 
for the exigencies of the times, without consulting Congress on the 
subject, and when any acted, it was in pursuance of the recommenda- 
tion of Congress. It was, therefore, the achievement of the whole for 
the benefit of the whole. 

" The people of the United Colonies made the United Colonies free 
and independent States, and absolved them from all allegiance to the 
British Crown. The Declaration of Independence has accordingly 
always been treated as an act of paramount and sovereign authority, 
complete and perfect per se, and ipso facto working an entire dissolution 
of all political connection with and allegiance to Great Britain. And this, 
not merely as a practical fact, but in. a legal and constitutional view of 
the matter by courts of justice." ^ 

When the people of the Colonies became free, having with- 
drawn sovereignty from the Crown of Great Britain, where did 
they lodge it? Not in the States; but, so far as they delegated 
it at all, they lodged it in the Revolutionary Congress then sitting 
in Philadelphia. My colleague dissents. I ask his attention 
again to the language of this distinguished commentator : — 

" In the next place, we have seen that the power to do this act was 
not derived from the State governments, nor was it done generally with 
their co-operation. The question then naturally presents itself, if it is 
to be considered as a national act, in what manner did the Colonies 

1 Book II. Sec. 211. 


become a nation, and in what manner did Congress become possessed 
of this national power? The true answer must be, that as soon as 
Congress assumed powers and passed measures which were in their 
nature national, to that extent the people from whose acquiescence and 
consent they took effect must be considered as agreeing to form a 
nation." * 

Mr. Pendleton. I desire to ask my colleague from what power the 
delegates who sat in that Congress derived their authority to make the 
Declaration ; whether they did not derive it from the Colonies, or the 
States, if the gentleman prefers that word, and whether each delegate 
did not speak in the Congress for the State government which author- 
ized him to speak there ? 

I say, in answer to the point the gentleman makes, as I have 
already said, and in the language of this distinguished com- 
mentator, that the moment the Revolutionary Congress assumed 
national prerogatives, and the people by their silence consented, 
that moment the people of the Colonies were constituted a na- 
tion, and that Revolutionary Congress became the authorized 
government of the nation. But the Declaration was made 
"by the authority of the good people," and hence it was their 

Mr. Pendleton. Will the gentleman permit me to ask him whether 
from that moment they became the representatives of the nation, or 
whether they still retained their position as representatives of the 
States ? 

They were both. They were still representatives of the 
States; but the new function of national representatives was 
added. They then took upon them that which now belongs to 
the gentleman, the twofold quality of State citizenship and 
national citizenship. The gentleman is twice a citizen, subject 
to two jurisdictions ; and so were they. 

I shall still further fortify my position by reading again from 
Justice Story : — 

" From the moment of the Declaration of Independence, if not for 
most purposes at an antecedent period, the United Colonies must be 
considered as being a nation de facto, having a general government 
over it, created and acting by the general consent of the people of all 
the Colonies. The powers of that government were not, and indeed 
could not, be well defined. But still its exclusive sovereignty in many 

^ Book II. Sec. 213. 


cases was firmly established, and its controlling power over the States 
was in most, if not in all national measures, universally admitted." ^ 

III. On the 1st of March, 1781, the sovereignty of the na- 
tion was lodged, by the people, in the Articles of Confedera- 
tion. The government thus formed, was a confederacy. Its 
Constitution might properly be styled a ** Compact of Confed- 
eration," though by its terms it established a " perpetual union/* 
and left small ground for the doctrine of secession. 

IV. On the 21st of June, 1788,^ our national sovereignty 
was lodged, by the people, in the Constitution of the United 
States, where it still resides, and for its preservation our armies 
are to-day in the field. In all these stages of development, 
from colonial dependence to full-orbed nationality, the people, 
not the States, have been omnipotent. They have abolished, 
established, altered, and amended, as suited their sovereign 
pleasure. For the greater security of liberty, they chose to 
distribute the functions of government. They left to each State 
the regulation of its local and municipal affairs, and endowed 
the Federal republic with the high functions of national sover- 
eignty. They made the Constitution. That great charter tells 
its own story best in the preamble: — 

" We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect 
union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the 
common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings 
of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this 
Constitution for the United States of America." 

Not '*We, the sovereign States," do enter into a league or form 
a " compact of confederation.*' 

If the gentleman looks, then, for a kind of political '* apos- 
tolic succession '* of American sovereignty, he will find that 
neither Colonies nor States were in the royal line ; but this is 
the genealogy : first, the Crown and Parliament of Great Brit- 
ain ; second, the Revolutionary Congress ; third, the Articles of 
Confederation ; fourth, and now, the Constitution of the United 
States ; and all this by the authority of the people. Now, if no 
one of the Colonics was sovereign and independent, when and 
how did any of the States become so? The gentleman must 
show us by what act it was done, and where the deed was re- 

^ Story on the Constitution, Book II. Sec. 215. 

' The date of the ratification of the Constitution by the ninth State, — New 
VOL L 6 


corded. I think I have shown that his position has no foundation 
in history, and the argument based upon it falls to the ground. 

In framing and establishing the Constitution, what restrictions 
were laid upon the people? Absolutely no human power be- 
yond themselves. No barriers confined them but the laws of 
nature, the laws of God, their love of justice, and their aspira- 
tions for liberty. Over that limitless expanse they ranged at 
will, and out of such materials as their wisdom selected they 
built the stately fabric of our government. That Constitution, 
with its Amendments, is the latest and the greatest utterance 
of American sovereignty. The hour is now at hand when that 
majestic sovereign, for the benignant purpose of securing still 
further the ** blessings of liberty," is about to put forth another 
oracle, — is about to declare that universal freedom shall be the 
supreme law of the land. Show me the power that is author- 
ized to forbid it. 

The lapse of eighty years has not abated one jot or tittle from 
the original sovereignty of the American people. They made 
the Constitution what it is. They could have made it otherwise 
then ; they can make it otherwise now. 

But my colleague ^ has planted himself on the intent of the 
Constitution. On that point I ask him by what means the 
will of this nation reaches the citizen, with its obligations? 
Only as that will is revealed in the logical and grammatical 
meaning of the words and phrases of the written Consti- 
tution. Beyond this, there is, there can be, no legal force or 
potency. If the amending power granted in the Constitution 
be in any way abridged or restricted, such restriction must be 
found in the just meaning of the instrument itself Any other 
doctrine would overthrow the whole fabric of jurisprudence. 
What are the limitations of the amending power? Plainly and 
only these : " That no amendment which may be made prior to 
the year 1808 shall in any manner affect the first and fourth 
clauses in the ninth section of the first Article; and that no 
State, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage 
in the Senate." ^ The first restriction, being bounded by the 
year 1808, is of course functtis officio, and no longer operative; 
the last is still binding. The gentleman does not claim that any 
other sentence is restrictive ; but he would have us believe there 
is something not written down, a tertium quid, a kind of exha- 

* Mr. Pendleton. a Constitution, Art. V. 


lation rising out of the depths of the Constitution, that has the 
power of itself to stay the hand of the people of this great 
republic in their attempt to put away an evil that is deleterious 
to the nation's life. He would lead us in pursuit of these 
intangible shadows, would place us in the dominion of vague, 
invisible powers, that exhale, like odors, from the Constitution, 
but are more potent than the Constitution itself. Such an ignis 
fatuus I am not disposed to follow, especially when it leads to 
a hopeful future for human slavery. • 

I cannot agree with my colleague, and the distinguished 
gentleman from Massachusetts,^ who unite in declaring that no 
amendment to the Constitution can be made which would be in 
conflict with its objects as declared in the preamble. What spe- 
cial immunity was granted to that first paragraph? Could not 
our forefathers have adopted a different preamble in the begin- 
ning? Could they not have employed other words, and declared 
other objects, as the basis of their Constitution? If they could 
have made a different preamble, declaring other and different 
objects, so can we now declare other objects in our amendments. 
The preamble is itself amendable, just as is every clause of the 
Constitution, excepting only the ones already referred to. But 
this point is not necessary in the case we are now considering. 
We need no change of the preamble to enable us to abolish 
slavery. It is only by the final overthrow of slavery that the 
objects of the preamble can be fully realized. By that means 
alone can we "establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and 
secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." 

The gentleman 2 puts another case which I wish to notice. He 
says that nine of the thirteen original Colonies adopted the Con- 
stitution, and by its very terms it was binding only on the nine. 
So if three fourths of the States should pass this amendment it 
would not bind the other fourth. In commenting upon this 
clause, Judge Tucker, of Virginia, in his appendix to Blackstone, 
says that if the four Colonies had not adopted the Constitution 
they would have been a foreign people. The writers of the 
Federalist hold a different doctrine, and fall back upon the origi- 
nal right of the nation to preserve itself, and say that the nine 
States would have had the right to compel the other four to 
come in. But the question is unimportant, from the fact that 
they did come in and adopt the Constitution. The contract 

1 Mr. Boutwell. * Mr. Pendleton. 


once ratified, and obligations once taken, they became an inte- 
gral part of an indivisible nation, as indivisible as a state. The 
argument is irrelevant; for the mode of adopting the Constitu- 
tion is one thing, the mode pointed out in the Constitution for 
adopting amendments to it is quite, another. The two have no 
necessary relation to each other. I therefore agree with my 
colleague from the Columbus district,^ that, except in the two 
cases of limitation, two thirds of Congress and three fourths of 
the States can do anything in the way of amendment, being 
bounded only by their sense of duty to God and the country. 
The field is then fully open before us. 

On the justice of the amendment itself no arguments are 
necessary. The reasons crowd in on every side. To enumer- 
ate them would be a work of superfluity. To me it is a matter 
of great surprise that gentlemen on the other side should wish 
to detey the death of slavery. I can only account for it on the 
ground of long-continued familiarity and friendship. I should 
be glad to hear them say of slavery, their beloved, as did the 
jealous Moor, — 

" Yet she must die, else she ni betray more men." 

Has she not betrayed and slain men enough? Are they not 
strewn over a thousand battle-fields? Is not this Moloch al- 
ready gorged with the bloody feast? Its best friends know that 
its final hour is fast approaching. The avenging gods are on 
its track. Their feet are not now, as of old, shod with wool, nor 
slow and stately stepping, but winged like Mercury's to bear the 
swift message of vengeance. No human power can avert the 
final catastrophe. 

I did not intend, Mr. Speaker, ever again to address the 
House on the subject of slavery. I had hoped we might, with- 
out a struggle, at once and forever remove it from the theatre 
of American politics, and turn our thoughts to those other and 
larger fields now opening before us. But when I saw the bold 
and determined efforts put forth in this House yesterday for its 
preservation, I could not resist my inclination to strike one blow, 
in the hope of hastening its doom. 

» Mr. Cox. 



July 4, 1865. 

July 4, i860, Mr. Garfield delivered an oration at Ravenna, Ohio, 
discussing such topics as generally drew the attention of cultivated men 
on such occasions before the war. Again, July 4, 1865, ^^ delivered a 
second oration at the same place. He began the second oration with 
calling attention to the changes that had been wrought since the first 
one was delivered. He traced the progress of the sentiment of liberty 
from the opening of the war to the Emancipation Proclamation, and then 
to the coming of peace. The results of the war, he said, were these : — 

1. A clear discernment upon the part of the Northern people of the 
wickedness of slavery. 

2. A stronger nationality. Out of the ruins of slavery and treason had 
grown up a stronger and grander nationality than we had ever known 
before. An old American statesman said that the stability of the govern- 
ment would depend upon its power directly to enforce its laws. The 
power of our government had been amply demonstrated by the gen- 
erous response to its calls for men and money for the war. We 
understand now that we do not owe allegiance to Washington by way 
of Columbus, but in an air line, 

3. The government had been proved stronger than any of its depend- 
encies. Cotton was declared King, but Cotton did not save the re- 
bellion. The Republic was greater than any product, than any interest, 
than any State or man. 

4. The character of the people had grown. " We have more faith 
in the American people than before the war. We have learned to know 
them and respect them. The boys who went from us come back to us 
solid men. They have been engaged in a righteous work. No man 
can be inspired with a great and noble purpose without being better for 
it The destiny of the nation is safer and surer than ever before. 
We have learned how to appreciate its beneficence and its virtue, and 



we shall never be likely to forget those who have come back to us 
from its battle-fields." 

Before this point was reached, Mr. Garfield had divided the national 
drama into two acts, the military act and the civil or the restorative act. 
Now he addressed himself to the second of these acts, or more narrowly 
the suffrage question. This oration was not fully reported, but the 
following portion, relating to suffrage, was prepared in manuscript by the 
author, and was printed at the time from his notes. 

FELLOW-CITIZENS, — We may now say that the past, 
with all its wealth of glorious associations, is secure. 
The air is filled with brightness; the horizon is aglow with 
hope. The future is full of magnificent possibilities. But God 
has committed to us a trust which we must not, we dare not 
overlook. By the dispensation of his Providence, the chains 
have been stricken from four millions of the inhabitants of this 
Republic, and he has shown us the truth of that early utterance 
of Abraham Lincoln's, — **This is a world of compensations; 
and he who would be no slave must have no slave. Those who 
deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and under 
a just God cannot long retain it." 

In the great crisis of the war, God brought us face to face 
with the mighty truth, that we must lose our own freedom or 
grant it to the slave. In the extremity of our distress, we called 
upon the black man to help us save the Republic ; and, amid 
the very thunders of battle, we made a covenant with him, 
sealed both with his blood and with ours, and witnessed by 
Jehovah, that, when the nation was redeemed, he should be 
free, and share with us its glories and its blessings. The Omnis- 
cient Witness will appear in judgment against us if we do not 
fulfil that covenant. Have we done it? Have we given freedom 
to the black man? What is freedom? Is it mere negation? 
Is it the bare privilege of not being chained, — of not being 
bought and sold, branded and scourged? If this is all, then 
freedom is a bitter mockery, a cruel delusion, and it may well 
be questioned whether slavery were not better. But liberty is 
no negation. It is a substantial, tangible reality. It is the 
realization of those imperishable truths of the Declaration, 
** that all men are created equal " ; that the sanction of all just 


government is " the consent of the governed." Can these be 
realized until each man has a right to be heard on all matters 
relating to himself? The plain truth is, that each man knows 
his own interest best It has been said, " If he is compelled to 
pay, if he may be compelled to fight, if he be required implicitly 
to obey, he should be legally entitled to be told what for ; to 
have his consent asked, and his opinion counted at what it is 
worth. There ought to be no pariahs in a full-grown and civil- 
ized nation, no persons disqualified except through their own 
default." I would not insult your intelligence by discussing so 
plain a truth, had not the passion and prejudice of this genera- 
tion called in question the very axioms of the Declaration. 

But it will be asked, Is it safe to admit to the elective fran- 
chise the great mass of ignorant and degraded blacks, so lately 
slaves? Here indeed is the great practical question, to the 
solution of which should be brought all the wisdom and en- 
lightenment of our people. I am fully persuaded that some 
degree of intelligence and culture should be required as a quali- 
fication for the right of suffrage. I have no doubt that it would 
be better if no man were allowed to vote who cannot read his 
ballot or the Constitution of the United States, and write his 
name or copy in a legible hand a sentence from the Declaration 
of Independence. Make any such wise restriction of suffrage, 
but let it apply to all alike. Let us not commit ourselves to 
the absurd and senseless dogma that the color of the skin shall 
be the basis of suffrage, the talisman of liberty. I admit that 
it is perilous to confer the franchise upon the ignorant and de- 
graded; but if an educational test cannot be established, let 
suffrage be extended to all men of proper age, regardless of 
color. It may well be questioned whether the negro does not 
understand the nature of our institutions better than the equally 
ignorant foreigner.' He was intelligent enough to understand 
from the beginning of the war that the destiny of his race was 
involved in it. He was intelligent enough to be true to that 
Union which his educated and traitorous master was endeavor- 
ing to destroy. He came to us in the hour of our sorest need, 
and by his aid, under God, the Republic was saved. Shall we 
now be guilty of the unutterable meanness, not only of thrust- 
ing him beyond the pale of its blessings, but of committing his 
destiny to the tender mercies of those pardoned rebels who 
have been so reluctantly compelled to take their feet from his 


neck and their hands from his throat? But some one says 
it is dangerous at this time to make new experiments. I an- 
swer, it is always safe to do justice. However, to grant suffrage 
to the black man in this country is not innovation, but restora- 
tion. It is a return to the ancient principles and practices of 
the fathers. Let me refer you to a few facts in our history 
which have been but little studied by' the people and politicians 
of this generation. 

1. During the war of the Revolution, and in 1788, the date of 
the adoption of our national Constitution, there was but one 
State among the thirteen whose constitution refused the right of 
suffrage to the negro. That State was South Carolina. Some, 
it is true, established a property qualification ; all made freedom 
a prerequisite; but none save South Carolina made color a 
condition of suffrage. 

2. The Federal Constitution makes no such distinction, nor 
did the Articles of Confederation. In the Congress of the Con- 
federation, on the 25th of June, 1778, the fourth article was 
under discussion. It provided that ** the free inhabitants of 
each of these States — paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from 
justice excepted — shall be entitled to all privileges and im- 
munities of free citizens in the several States." The delegates 
from South Carolina moved to insert between the words '* free 
inhabitants" the word "white," thus denying the privileges and 
immunities of citizenship to the colored man. According to 
the rules of the convention, each State had but one vote. 
Eleven States voted on the question. One was divided ; two 
voted aye ; and eight voted no.^ It was thus early, and almost 
unanimously, decided ^zX, freedom, not color, should be the test 
of citizenship. 

3. No Federal legislation prior to 1 8 12 placed any restriction 
on the right of suffrage in consequence of the color of the citi- 
zen. From 1789 to 1812 Congress passed ten separate laws 
establishing new Territories. In all these, freedom, and not 
color, was the basis of suffrage. 

4. After nearly a quarter of a century of prosperity under the 
Constitution, the spirit of slavery so far triumphed over the early 
principles and practices of the government that, in 1812, South 
Carolina and her followers in Congress succeeded in inserting 
the word " white " in the suffrage clause of the act establishing 

1 Elliot's Debates, Vol. I. p. 90. 


a territorial government for Missouri. One by one the Slave 
States, and many of the free States, gave way before the crusade 
of slavery against negro citizenship. In 181 7, Connecticut 
caught the infection, and in her constitution she excluded the 
negro from the ballot-box. In every other New England State 
his ancient right of suffrage has remained and still remains un- 
disturbed. Free negroes voted in Maryland till 1833 ; in North 
Carolina, till 1835 ; in Pennsylvania, till 1838. It was the boast 
of Cave Johnson of Tennessee that he owed his election to Con- 
gress in 1828 to the free negroes who worked in his mills. They 
were denied the suffrage in 1834, under the new constitution of 
Tennessee, by a vote of thirty-three to twenty-three. As new 
States were formed, their constitutions for the most part ex- 
cluded the negro from citizenship. Then followed the shameful 
catalogue of black laws — expatriation and ostracism in every 
form — which have so deeply disgraced the record of legisla- 
tion in many of the States. 

I afRrm, therefore, that our present position is one of apos- 
tasy ; and to give the ballot to the negro will be no innovation, 
but a return to the old paths, — a restoration of that spirit of 
liberty to which the sufferings and sacrifices of the Revolution 
gave birth. 

But if we had no respect for the early practices and traditions 
of our fathers, we should still be compelled to meet the practical 
question which will very soon be forced upon us for solution. 
The necessity of putting down the rebellion by force of arms 
was no more imperative than is that of restoring law, order, and 
liberty in the States that rebelled. No duty can be more sacred 
than that of maintaining and perpetuating the freedom which 
the Proclamation of Emancipation gave to the loyal black men of 
the South. If they are to be disfranchised, if they are to have 
no voice in determining the conditions under which they are to 
live and labor, what hope have they for the future? It will rest 
with their late masters, whose treason they aided to thwart, to 
determine whether negroes shall be permitted to hold property, 
to enjoy the benefits of education, to enforce contracts, to have 
access to the courts of justice, — in short, to enjoy any of those 
rights which give vitality and value to freedom. Who can fail 
to foresee the ruin and misery that await this race, to whom the 
vision of freedom has been presented only to be withdrawn, 
leaving them without even the aid which the master's selfish 


commercial interest in their life and service formerly afforded 
them? Will these negroes, remembering the battle-fields on 
which two hundred thousand of their number bravely fought, 
and many thousands heroically died, submit to oppression as 
tamely and peaceably as in the days of slavery? Under such 
conditions, there could be no peace, no security, no prosperity. 
I am glad to be able to fortify my position on this point by the 
great name and ability of Theophilus Parsons, of the Harvard 
Law School. In discussing the necessity of negro suffrage at a 
recent public meeting in Boston, he says : — 

" Some of the Southern States have among their statutes a law pro- 
hibiting the education of a colored man under a heavy penalty. The 
whole world calls this most inhuman, most infamous. And shall we say 
to the whites of those States, * We give you complete and exclusive power 
of legislating about the education of the blacks ; but beware, for if you 
lift them by education from their present condition, you do it under the 
penalty of forfeiting and losing your supremacy? * Will not slavery, with 
nearly all its evils, and with none of its compensation, come back at once ? 
Not under its own detested name ; it will call itself apprenticeship ; it 
will put on the disguise of laws to prevent pauperism, by providing that 
every colored man who does not work in some prescribed way shall be 
arrested, and placed at the disposal of the authorities ; or it will do its 
work by means of laws regulating wages and labor. However it be 
done, one thing is certain : if we take from the slaves all the protection 
and defence they found in slavery, and withhold from them all power of 
self-protection and self-defence, the race must perish, and we shall be 
their destroyers." 

Another patriotic speaker thus justly sums up his conclu- 
sions : ** We must choose between two results. With these 
four millions of negroes, either you must have four millions of 
disfranchised, disarmed, untaught, landless, thriftless, non-pro- 
ducing, non-consuming, degraded men ; or else you must have 
four millions of landholding, industrious, arms-bearing, and vot- 
ing population. Choose between these two ! " 

Bear with me, fellow-citizens, while I urge still another con- 
sideration. By the Constitution, only three fifths of the slaves 
were counted in forming the basis of Congressional representa- 
tion. The Proclamation of Emancipation adds the other two 
fifths, which at the next census will be more than two millions. 
If the negro be denied the franchise, and the size of the House 
of Representatives remain as now, we shall have fifteen addi- 


tional members of Congress from the States lately in rebellion, 
without the addition of a single citizen to their population, and 
we shall have fifteen less in the loyal States. This will not only 
give six members of Congress to South Carolina, four sevenths 
of whose people are negroes, but it will place the power of the 
State, as well as the destiny of 412,000 black men, in the hands 
of the 20,000 white men (less than the number of voters in our 
own Congressional district) who, under the restricted suffrage 
of that undemocratic State, exercise the franchise. Such an 
unjust and unequal distribution of power would breed perpetual 
mischief. The evils of the rotten borough system of England 
would be upon us. 

Indeed, we can find no more instructive lesson on the whole ^ 
question of suffrage than the history of its development in the 
British empire. For more than four centuries, royal preroga- 
tive and the rights of the people of England have waged per- 
petual warfare. Often the result has appeared doubtful, often 
the people have been driven to the wall, but they have always 
renewed the struggle with unfaltering courage. Often have 
they lost the battle, but they have always won the campaign. 
Amidst all their reverses, each generation has found them 
stronger, each half-century has brought them its year of jubi- 
lee, and has added strength to the bulwark of law and breadth 
to the basis of liberty. This contest has illustrated again and 
again the saying that " eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." 
The growth of a city, the decay of a borough, the establish- 
ment of a new manufacture, the enlargement of commerce, the 
recognition of a new power, have, each in its turn, added new 
and peculiar elements to the contest. Hallam says : " It would 
be difficult, probably, to name any town of the least considera- 
tion in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, which did not, at 
some time or other, return members to Parliament. This is so 
much the case, that if, in running our eyes along the map, 
we find any seaport, as Sunderland or Falmouth, or any in- 
land town, as Leeds or Birmingham, which has never enjoyed 
the elective franchise, we may conclude at once that it has 
emerged from obscurity since the reign of Henry VIII." ^ It 
was a doctrine old as the common law, maintained by our 
Anglo-Saxon ancestors centuries before it was planted in the 
American Colonies, that taxation and representation were insep- 

> Constitutional History of England, Chap. XIII. 


arable correlatives, the one a duty based upon the other as a 
right But the neglect of the government to provide a system 
which made the Parliamentary representation conform to the 
increase of population, and the growth and decadence of cities 
and boroughs, had, by almost imperceptible degrees, disfran- 
chised the great mass of the British people, and placed the 
legislative power in the hands of a few leading families of the 
realm. Towards the close of the last century the question of 
Parliamentary reform assumed a definite shape, and since that 
time has constituted one of the most prominent features in Brit- 
ish politics. It was found not only that the basis of representa- 
tion was unequal and unjust, but that the right of the elective 
franchise was granted to but few of the inhabitants, and was 
regulated by no fixed and equitable rule. Here I may quote 
from May's Constitutional History : — 

" In some of the corporate towns, the inhabitants pajring scot and lot, 
and freemen, were admitted to vote ; in some, the freemen only ; and in 
many, none but the governing body of the corporation. At Buckingham 
and at Bewdley the right of election was confined to the bailiff and twelve 
burgesses ; at Bath, to the mayor, ten aldermen, and twenty-four com- 
mon-councilmen ; at Salisbury, to the mayor and corporation, consisting 
of fifty-six persons. And where more popular rights of election were 
acknowledged, there were often very few inhabitants to exercise them. 
Gatton enjoyed a liberal franchise. All freeholders and inhabitants pay- 
ing scot and lot were entitled to vote, but they only amounted to seven. 
At Tavistock all freeholders rejoiced in the franchise, but there were 
only ten. At St. Michael all inhabitants paying scot and lot were elec- 
tors, but there were only seven. 

" In 1 793 the Society of the Friends of the People were prepared to 
prove that in England and Wales seventy members were returned by 
thirty-five places in which there were scarcely any electors at all ; that 
ninety members were returned by forty-six places with less than fifty 
electors ; and thirty-seven members by nineteen places having not more 
than one hundred electors. Such places were returning members, while 
Leeds, Birmingham, and Manchester were unrepresented; and the 
members whom they sent to Parliament were the nominees of peers and 
other wealthy patrons. No abuse was more flagrant than the direct con- 
trol of peers over the constitution of the Lower House. The Duke of 
Norfolk was represented by eleven members ; Lord Lonsdale by nine ; 
Lord Darlington by seven ; the Duke of Rutland, the Marquis of Buck- 
ingham, and Lord Carrington, each by six. Seats were held in both 
Houses alike by hereditary right." ^ 

1 May's Constitutional History uf England, (Boston, i86S,) Vol. I. pp. 266, 267. 



Scotland and Ireland were virtually disfranchised ; Edinburgh 
and Glasgow, the two largest cities of Scotland, had each a 
constituency of only thirty-three members. A majority of the 
members of the House of Commons were elected by six thou- 
sand voters. This state of affairs afforded ready opportunities 
for the moneyed aristocracy to buy seats in Parliament, by the 
purchase of a few voters in rotten boroughs ; and also enabled 
the ministry to secure a servile majority in the Commons. The 
corruption resulting from these conditions, as exhibited in the 
latter half of the eighteenth century, can hardly be realized by 
the present generation. They afford, however, an illustration 
of the universal truth, that a government which does not draw 
its inspiration of liberty, justice, and morality from the people 
will soon become both tyrannical and corrupt. 

In these facts we discover the cause of the popular discontent 
and outbreaks which have so frequently threatened the stability 
of the British throne and the peace of the English people. As 
early as 1770 Lord Chatham said, ** By the end of this century, 
either the Parliament must be reformed from within, or it will 
be reformed with a vengeance from without." The disastrous 
failure of Republicanism in France delayed the fulfilment of his 
prophecy; but when, in 1832, the people were on the verge of 
revolt, the government was reluctantly compelled to pass the 
celebrated Reform Bill, which has taken its place in English 
history beside Magna Charta and the Bill of Rights. It equal- 
ized the basis of representation, and extended the suffrage to 
the middle class; and though the property qualification prac- 
tically excluded the workingman, a great step upward had been 
taken, a concession had been made which must be followed by 
others. The struggle is again going on. Its omens are not 
doubtful. The great storm through which American liberty 
has just passed gave a temporary triumph to the enemies of 
popular right in England. But our recent glorious triumph is 
the signal of disaster to tyranny, and victory for the people. 
The liberal party in England are jubilant, and will never rest 
until the ballot, that "silent vindicator of liberty," is in the hand 
of the workingman, and the temple of English liberty rests on 
the broad foundation of popular suffrage. Let us learn from 
this, that suffrage and safety y like liberty and unio?t, are one and s, 

It is related in ancient fable that one of the gods, dissatisfied A 


with the decrees of destiny, attempted to steal the box in which 
were kept the decrees of the Fates ; but he found that it was 
fastened to the throne of Jupiter by a golden chain, and to re- 
move it would pull down the pillars of heaven. So is the 
sacred ballot-box, which holds the decrees of freemen, linked 
by the indissoluble bond of necessity to the pillars of the Re- 
public ; and he who tampers with its decrees, or plucks it away 
from its place in our temple, will perish amid the ruins he has 

But in view of the lessons of the years of contest that have 
crowned the nation with victory, with the inspirations of liberty 
and truth brightly lighting the pathway of the people, who can 
doubt the equity of their voice ? The nations of the earth miist 
not be allowed to point at us as pitiful examples of weak 
selfishness. In the exigencies of this hour, our duty must be 
so done that the eternal scrolls of justice will ever bear record 
of the nobility of the nation's heart Animated, inspired, gen- 
erous, fearless, in the work of liberty and truth, long will the 
Republic live, a bulwark of God's immutable justice. 




February i, 1866. 

The title that this speech bears in the pamphlet edition issued by its 
authof is " Freedmen's Bureau — Restoration of the Southern States." 

" An Act to establish a Bureau for the Relief of Freedmen and Refu- 
gees" was approved on March 3, 1865. At the next session, Congress 
passed a bill to amend this act, and " for other purposes," which was 
vetoed by President Johnson, February 19, 1866. Pending this bill in 
the House of Representatives, Mr. Garfield made this speech. As he 
does not deal directly with the bill, but discusses the general question of 
Reconstruction, an analysis of the pending measure is not necessary. 

Mr. Garfield began with remarking that the pending bill was one of a 
series of measures which it was the duty of the House to consider and 
act upon during the current session. He therefore proposed to " discuss 
in connection with it the general question of the restoration of the States 
lately in rebellion." A succinct statement of facts concerning the status 
of the Reconstruction question at that time will throw much light upon 
the speech, as well as upon all the speeches in which he discusses Re- 
construction topics. 

President Johnson's plan of reconstruction rested on this constitu- 
tional theory : — 

1. The Rebel States did not, as a matter of fact, secede. " All in- 
tended acts of secession," he said, in his message of December 4, 1865, 
"were from the beginning null and void." 

2. Individuals had committed treason, and enough of them should be 
punished to " make treason odious." 

3. The Rebel State governments must share the fate of the Confed- 
erate government. He said : " The State institutions are prostrated, 
laid out on the ground, and they must be taken up and adapted to the 
progress of events." 

4. To " take up " their institutions and " adapt them to the progress 
of events," State conventions must be held. These conventions would 


frame constitutions, provide for holding elections, and do all other 
things preliminary to State reorganization. 

5. When these constitutions had been framed and ratified, and the 
State governments fully set up, and Representatives and Senators chosen, 
it would be the duty of Congress to admit the Representatives and Sena- 
tors, thereby recognizing the States as in proper relations to the Union. 
Certain terms and conditions the President proppsed to make ; as the 
abolition of slavery, the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, and 
the repudiation of the debts contracted in carrying on the Rebellion. 

President Johnson promptly set about carrying his theory into execu- 
tion. May 29, 1865, he issued his amnesty proclamation, removing all 
political disabilities on the score of participation in rebellion, save in 
certain excepted cases. Beginning the same day, he appointed Pro- 
visional Governors in the several Rebel States, who were to call consti- 
tutional conventions, and in all ways to co-operate with the people of 
the States in creating new State institutions. This proviso, in substance 
found in all the proclamations appointing said Governors, defined the 
exercise of the elective franchise : — 

" Provided f that in any election that may be hereafter held for choos- 
ing delegates to any State Convention, as aforesaid, no person shall be 
qualified as an elector, or shall be eligible as a member of such Conven- 
tion, unless he shall have previously taken the oath of amnesty, as set 
forth in the President's proclamation of May 29, a. d. 1865, and is a 
voter qualified as prescribed by the Constitution and laws of the State 
of Nortli Carolina in force immediately before the 20th day of May, 
1 86 1, the date of the so-called Ordinance of Secession ; and the said 
Convention, when convened, or the Legislature that may be thereafter 
assembled, will prescribe the qualification of electors, and the eligibility 
of persons to hold office under the Constitution and laws of the State, 
a power the people of the several States composing the Federal Union 
have rightfully exercised from the origin of the government to the pres- 
ent time." * * 

The Governors appointed by these proclamations hastened to perform 
their parts. Conventions were held, constitutions framed and ratified, 
and State officers elected. December 18, 1865, the President informed 
Congress, in a special message, that the people of North Carolina, South 
Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Ten- 
nessee had reorganized their State governments, and were yielding obe- 
dience to the laws of the United States. He now began to press for 
the admission to Congress of their so-called Senators and Representa- 
tives, and, February 19, 1866, he plainly told Congress that these States 
were " entitled to enjoy their constitutional rights as members of the 

^ The quotation is made from the North Carolina proclamation of May 29^ 1865. 


While differing widely among themselves both as to constitutional 
theories and practical measures, the Republican leaders differed still 
more widely from the President. At the beginning of his administration, 
there was a want of full confidence in him on the part of the Repub- 
lican party, and the breach widened as he progressively unfolded his 
scheme. After February 19, 1866, it was irreparable. First, these 
leaders held that the President arrogated quite too much authority to 
the Executive, and relegated Congress to quite too humble a part. 
Second, they objected to his plan on its merits; (i.) as failing properly 
to punish treason ; (2.) as failing to assure the peace and protection of 
Southern Unionists, especially the freedmen. Holding these views, the 
Republican majority in Congress had, by a concurrent resolution of De- 
cember 13, 1865, created a joint Committee on Reconstruction, direct- 
ing said committee to " inquire into the conditions of the States of what 
formed the so-called Confederate States of America, and report whether 
they or any of them are entitled to be represented in either house of 
Congress, with leave to report by bill or otherwise." 

Congress promptly replied to the President's veto of the Freedmen*s 
Bureau Bill, and his demand of February 19, 1866, that the recon- 
structed States were "entitled to enjoy their constitutional rights as 
members of the Union," by adopting a concurrent resolution to the 
eflfect that "no Senator or Representative shall be admitted to either 
Iwanch of Congress from any of said States until Congress shall have 
declared such State entitled to such representation." (House, February 
20; Senate, March 2.) The "series of measures" to which Mr. Gar- 
field refers in his opening are the pending bill, the Fourteenth Amend- 
ment, and the two bills reported by the Reconstruction Committee in 
April following, designed to accomplish the work of reconstruction ; the 
logical basis of all which measures is contained in the majority report 
of the Reconstruction Committee, made June 18, 1866. At the time 
Mr. Garfield made the following speech, these measures had not been 
folly reported, nor had the final breach with the President occurred. 
This recital of facts shows the attitude of the President and of Congress 
at the period to which this speech belongs. 

MR. SPEAKER, — The bill now before the House is one 
of a scries of measures which it is the duty of this House 
to consider and act upon during the present session : and I shall, 
in the time allotted to me, take a wider range than the provis- 
ions of the bill itself would warrant, and discuss, in connection 
with it, the general question of the restoration of the States lately 
VOL. I. 7 


in rebellion. I shall try to examine the situation of national 
affairs resulting from the war; to determine, if possible, what 
ought to be done to bring the republic back, by the surest, 
safest, and shortest path, to the full prosperity of liberty and 
peace. This is the result earnestly desired by ever}' patriotic 
citizen. How to reach it is the great problem we are called 
upon to solve. On the main points in the problem I believe 
there is far less difference of sentiment in this House than is 
generally supposed. 

Men differ far more in theory than in practice. It would be 
easy to find ten men who perfectly agree in recommending a 
given course of action. It would be difficult to find ten who 
would give the same reasons for that recommendation. If the 
members of this House could lay aside their theories and ab- 
stract definitions, and deliberate on questions of practical legis- 
lation, many apparent differences would at once disappear. The 
words and phrases that we use exert a powerful influence on 
the opinions we form and the action which results. 

In inquiring into the legal status of the insurgent States, we 
are met at the threshold by three distinct theories, each of which 
has its advocates in this House : — 

1. That these States are now and have never ceased to be in 
the Union, with all their rights unimpaired. 

2. That they are out of the Union in fact and in law; that 
by their acts of secession and rebellion they are reduced to the 
condition of Territories ; and that it rests with Congress to deter- 
mine whether they shall now or hereafter be admitted into the 

3. The theory announced by the gentleman from New York,^ 
in his speech of three days ago, that, whatever may have been 
the effect of the war upon them, we ought to accept the pres- 
ent status of the Southern States, and regard them as having 
resumed, under the President's guidance and action, their func- 
tions of self-government in the Union.^ 

Mr. Speaker, I am unable fully to agree with either of these 
propositions, and I shall endeavor to point out what seems to 
me the error which has led to their adoption. Two terms made 
use of in the debate on this subject appear to have caused 
much of the diversity of opinion. I allude to the word ** State," 
and the phrase ** in the Union/' 

1 Mr. Raymond. ' Congressional Globe, January 29, 1866, p. 491. 


The word " State/' as it has been used by gentlemen in this 
discussion, has two meanings as perfectly distinct as though 
different words had been used to express them. The confusion 
arising from applying the same word to two different and dis- 
similar objects, has had very much to do with the diverse con- 
clusions which gentlemen have reached. They have given us 
the definition of a *' State " in the contemplation of public or 
international law, and have at once applied that definition, and 
the conclusions based upon it, to the States of the American 
Union, and the effects of war upon them. Let us examine the 
two meanings of the word, and endeavor to keep them distinct 
in their application to the questions before us. 

Phillimore, the great English publicist, says : — 

" For all purposes of international law, a state (S^/xo?, civitas^ Volk) 
may be defined to be a people permanently occupying a fixed territory 
{certam secUm)^ bound together by common laws, habits, and customs 
into one body politic, exercising, through the medium of an organized 
government, independent sovereignty and control over all persons and 
things within its boundaries, capable of making war and peace, and of 
entering into all international relations with the other communities of the 
globe." ^ 

Substantially the same definition may be found in Grotius,^ in 
Burlamaqui,^ and in Vattel.* The primary point of agreement 
in all these authorities is, that in contemplation of international 
law. a state is absolutely sovereign, acknowledging no superior 
on earth. In that sense the United States is a state, a sovereign 
state, just as Great Britain, France, and Russia are states. 

But what is the meaning of the word State as applied to Ohio 
or Alabama? Is either of them a state in the sense of inter- 
national law? They lack all the leading requisites of such a 
state. They are only the geographical subdivisions of a state ; 
and though endowed by the people of the United States with 
the rights of local self-government, yet in all their external rela- 
tions their sovereignty is completely destroyed, being merged 
in the supreme Federal government.^ Ohio cannot make war ; 
cannot conclude peace ; cannot make a treaty with any foreign 
government ; cannot even make a compact with her sister State ; 

' International Law, Part II. Chap. I. Sec. 65. 

^ Rights of War and Peace, Book I. Chap. I. Sec. 14. 

' Principles of Natural and Politic Law, Vol. II. Part L Chap. IV. Sec. 9. 

* Law of Nations, Book I. Chap. I. Sec. i. 

* See Halleck*s International I^w, Chap. III. Sec. 16. 


cannot regulate commerce; cannot coin money; and has no 
flag. These indispensable attributes of sovereignty the State of 
Ohio does not possess, nor does any other State of the Union. 
We call them States for want of a better name. We call them 
States because the original Thirteen had been so designated be- 
fore the Constitution was formed ; but that Constitution destroyed 
all the sovereignty which those States were ever supposed to 
possess in reference to external affairs. 

I submit, Mr. Speaker, that the five great publicists, Grotius, 
Puffendorf, Bynkershoek, Burlamaqui, and Vattel, who have been 
so often quoted in this debate, and all of whom wrote more 
than a quarter of a century, and some nearly two centuries, 
before our Constitution was formed, can hardly be quoted as 
good authorities in regard to the nature and legal relationships 
of the component States of the American Union. 

Even my colleague from the Columbus district,^ in his very 
able discussion of this question, spoke as though a State of this 
Union was the same as a state in the sense of international law, 
with certain qualities added. I think he must admit that nearly 
all the leading attributes of such a state are wanting to a State 
of our Union. 

Several gentlemen in this debate have quoted the well-known 
doctrine of international law, ** that war annuls all existing com- 
pacts and treaties between belligerents '* ; and they have con- 
cluded, therefore, that our war has broken the Federal bond 
and dissolved the Union. This would be true if the Rebel 
States were states in the sense of international law, — if our 
government were not a sovereign nation, but only a league 
between sovereign states. 

I oppose to this conclusion the unanswerable proposition that 
this is a nation ; that the Rebel States are not sovereign states, 
and therefore their failure to achieve independence was a fail- 
ure to break the Federal bond, — to dissolve the Union. The 
word "state" which they discuss is no more applicable to Ohio 
than to Hamilton County. The States and counties of this 
Union are equally unknown to international law. 

There is another expression to which I have referred, and 
which is used in an equally ambiguous manner. We have 
discussed the question here whether these insurgent States are 
in the Union. " In the Union. " What do we mean by the 

* Mr. Shellabarger. 


phrase? In one sense, every inch of soil that we own is " in the 
Union." The Territory of Utah is in the Union. So is every 
Territory of the West in the Union ; that is, under its authority, 
subject to its right of eminent domain. On the other hand, 
when some gentlemen say these States are " in the Union/' 
they mean to include all their relations, all their rights and 
privileges, which is quite another thing. From this ambiguity 
in the use of terms have arisen most of the differences of opin- 
ion on this subject. 

I would not be understood as saying that international law 
has nothing to do with the question before us. It has much to 
do with it. It furnished us with the rules of civilized nations in 
the conduct of war, the rights of belligerents, the treatment of 
prisoners, the rules of surrender, cartel, and parole. Guided by 
the precepts of international law, we are enabled to understand 
the rights and duties of neutral powers, and the legal results of 
successful war against domestic enemies and traitors. But when 
gentlemen quote the doctrines of international law in reference 
to sovereign nations, and apply them directly to the political 
status of the States of this Union, they lead us into error. 

In view of the peculiar character of our government, I ask: 
In what condition has the war left the Rebel States? Did they 
accomplish their own destruction ? Did they break the bonds 
which bound them to the Union? I answer, they would have 
done both these things, if anything short of successful revolu- 
tion could do it. It was not, as some gentlemen hold, merely 
an insurrection of individuals. It was not, as most civil wars 
are, a war among the atoms, so to speak, flaming here and 
there, as fire breaks out in a hundred places in a city. It was a 
war of organized popular masses, or as the Supreme Court, 
borrowing the prophetic words of De Tocqueville, calls it, *' a 
territorial civil war," in which we granted them belligerent rights, 
and claimed for ourselves both belligerent and sovereign rights. 
We could pursue them with war as enemies, or try them by 
criminal law as citizens, and hang them as condemned traitors. 

I cannot agree with the distinguished gentleman from New 
York,* when he holds that we are to deal with the Rebels only 
as individuals. They struck at the Union through every instru- 
mentality within their reach: through personal service in the 
army and individual contributions of money; through volun- 

* Mr. Ra3rmond. 


tary associations to raise men and money ; through popular mass 
meetings to inflame the passions and develop all the powers of 
their people ; through township, county, and city corporations ; 
through State conventions, that framed new constitutions in 
order the more perfectly to sever the bonds which held them 
to the Union ; and, to make a more powerful and effectual 
instrument with which to establish their rebel sovereignty, 
through State legislatures, by laws levying taxes for the pur- 
chase of arms, ammunition, and all the materiel of war, by res- 
olutions denouncing the pains and penalties of treason against 
all citizens who refused to join their conspiracy; and finally, 
through a coofederation of eleven States, consolidated into a 
central sovereign government defactOy which became the most 
absolute military despotism in modern history, — a despotism 
which inundated with its deluge of tyranny all State guaranties, 
all municipal privileges, and assumed absolute control of all per- 
sons and property within the limits of its territory. There was 
not a conceivable calamity which could have befallen us as a 
nation that they did not attempt, with all their power and in 
every available way, to bring upon us. Individuals fought us 
as individuals; States as States fought us; and if a State can 
commit treason, each of the sinful eleven committed it again 
and again. The Rebels utterly subverted the governments of 
their States, they broke every oath by which they had bound 
themselves to the Union, they let go their hold upon the 
Union, and attempted to destroy it. 

What was the tie that bound those States to the Union ? For 
example, what made Alabama a State of the Union? Read the 
history of that transaction. When she had formed a constitu- 
tion for herself in obedience to the law of Congress, when Con- 
gress had approved that constitution as republican in form, the 
following act was passed by the Congress of the United States, 
and was approved by the President, December 14, 18 19: ''Re- 
solved by the Senate and House of Represaitatives of the United 
States of America in Congress assembled. That the State of Ala- 
bama shall be one, and is hereby declared to be one, of the 
United States of America, and admitted into the Union on an 
equal footing with the original Stales in all respects whatso- 
ever." Now, Alabama may violate a law of Congress, but she 
cannot annul it. She may break it, but she cannot make it 
void, except by successful revolution. 


By another law of Congress, approved April 21, 1820, it was 
declared, "That all the laws of the United States which are 
not locally inapplicable shall be extended to the State of Ala- 
bama, and shall have the same force and effect within the same 
as elsewhere in the United States." By this law Congress 
extended our judiciary system over Alabama, dividing the 
State into judicial districts ; and since that time, year by year, 
Congress has been covering Alabama with Federal legisla- 
tion as with a network of steel. Has Alabama broken all 
these bonds? She has done all she could to break away from 
the Union, but she has not been able to destroy or render in- 
valid one law of the republic. Alabama let go of the Union, 
but the Union did not let go of Alabama. We have held her 
through four years of war, and we hold her still. When she 
tried to break the Federal bonds, we called out millions of men 
in order that not one jot or tittle should pass from these laws, 
but that all should be fulfilled. 

Let the stars of heaven illustrate our constellation of States. 
When God launched the planets upon their celestial pathway, 
he bound them all by the resistless power of attraction to the 
central sun, around which they revolved in their appointed 
orbits. Each may be swept by storms, may be riven by light- 
nings, may be rocked by earthquakes, may be devastated by all 
the terrestrial forces and overwhelmed in ruin, but far away in 
the everlasting depths the sovereign sun holds the turbulent 
planet in its place. This earth may be overwhelmed until the 
high hills are covered by the sea ; it may tremble with earth- 
quakes miles below the soil, but it must still revolve in its ap- 
pointed orbit. So Alabama may overwhelm all her municipal 
institutions in ruin, but she cannot annul the omnipotent de- 
crees of the sovereign people of the Union. She must be held 
forever in her orbit of obedience and duty. 

Mr. Stevens. If the gentleman from Ohio will permit me, I will ask 
him a question. Some of the angels undertook to dethrone the Al- 
mighty, but they could not do it. And they were turned out of heaven 
because they were unable to break its laws. Are those devilish angels 
in or out of heaven ? 

I thank the gentleman from Pennsylvania for his interruption. 
The angels that kept not their first estate, — what was their 
fate? It was the Almighty who opened the shining gates of 


heaven and hurled them down to eternal ruin. They did not 
go without his permission and help. And if these States are 
out of the Union, it must be because the sovereign people of 
the republic hurled them out; because they pleased to let 
them go. I am glad the gentleman interrupted me : he hap- 
pily illustrates my position. 

I will not discuss what we might do with Alabama, but simply 
what Alabama herself was able to do, and what she was not able 
to do, toward breaking up this Union. Two years ago, when I 
had the honor for the first time to address this House, the same 
question that is now before us was under discussion. I main- 
tained then, as I hold to-day, that the Rebel States are not, in 
any legitimate sense of the words, out of the Union. I declared 
then, as I declare now, that by their own act of treason and 
rebellion they had forfeited all their rights in the Union, but 
they had released themselves from none of their obligations. 
It rests with the people of the republic to enforce the perform- 
ance of these obligations, and, so soon as the national safety 
will permit, restore them to their rights. 

Now, let us inquire how the surrender of the military power 
of the Rebellion affected the legal condition of those States. 
When the Rebellion collapsed, and the last armed man of the 
Confederacy surrendered to our forces, I affirm that there was 
not in one of those States a single government that we did or 
could recognize. There was not in one of those States a single 
man, from governor down to constable, whom we could recog- 
nize as authorized to exercise any official function whatever. 
They had formed governments alien and hostile to the Union. 
Not only had their officers taken no oaths to support the Con- 
stitution of the United States, but they had heaped oath upon 
oath to destroy it. 

I go further. I hold that there were in those States no con- 
stitutions of any binding force and effect, — none that we could 
recognize. A constitution, in this case, can mean nothing less 
than a constitution of government. A constitution must consti- 
tute something, or it is no constitution. When we speak of the 
constitution of Alabama, we mean the constitution of the gov- 
ernment of Alabama. When the Rebels surrendered, there 
remained no constitution in Alabama, because there remained 
no government. Those States reverted into our hands by vic- 
torious war, with every municipal right and every municipal 


authority utterly and completely swept away. Whose duty was 
it to assume the control of them under such circumstances? 

In the first instance, it was the duty of the President of the 
United States. Congress was not then in session. Military 
resistance to the armies of the Union had ceased, and the laws 
of war covered every inch of the conquered territory. I ap- 
peal to the high authority of international law, as stated by 
Halleck : — 

"The government established over an enemy's territory during its 
military occupation may exercise all the powers given by the laws of 
war to the conqueror over the conquered, and is subject to all the re- 
strictions which that code imposes. It is of little consequence whether 
such government be called a military or a civil government ; its character 
is the same, and the source of its authority the same : in either case, it 
is a government imposed by the laws of war, and so far as it concerns 
the inhabitants of such territory, or the rest of the world, those laws alone 
determine the legality or illegality of its acts. But the conquering state 
may, of its own will, whether expressed in its constitution or in its laws, 
impose restrictions additional to those established by the usage of nations, 
conferring upon the inhabitants of the territory so occupied privileges 
and rights to which they are not strictly entitied by the laws of war ; and, 
if such government of military occupation violate these additional restric- 
tions so imposed, it is accountable to the power which established it, but 
not to the rest of the world." * 

The same author applies the laws of war to the United States 
and holds that the President, as commander-in-chief, may estab- 
lish a government over conquered territory, but that Congress 
may at any time put an end to such a government, and organize 
a new one.^ 

It was decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, 
in reference to the Mexican war, that on the conquest of a 
country the President may establish a provisional government, 
which may ordain laws and institute a judicial system, which 
will continue in force after the war, and until modified by the 
direct legislation of Congress or by the territorial government 
established by its authority.^ 

From these authorities and from the facts in the case it is 
evident, — 

I. That, by conquest, the United States obtained complete 
control of the Rebel territory. 

^ International Law, Chap. XXXII. Sec i. a ibid., Chap. XXXIII. Sec. 16. 
• Lftitensdorfer v, Webb, 20 Howard, 176. 


2. That every vestige of municipal authority in those States 
was, by secession, rebellion, and the conquest of the rebellion, 
utterly destroyed. 

3. That the state of war did not terminate with the actual 
cessation of hostilities, but that under the laws of war it was the 
duty of the President, as commander-in-chief, to establish gov- 
ernments over the conquered people of the insurgent States, 
which governments, no matter what may be their form, are 
really military governments, deriving their sole power from the 

4. That the governments thus established are valid while the 
state of war continues, and until Congress acts in the case. 

5. That it belongs exclusively to the legislative authority of 
the government to determine the political status of the insur- 
gent States, either by adopting the governments the President 
has established, or by permitting the people to form others, 
subject to the approval of Congress. 

The President might have sent a major-general, or any other 
military officer, to govern each one of the Rebel States. But he 
chose to consult the people, and allow them to adopt a form of 
government resembling civil government, so that they might 
the more easily come back to their places in due time. But 
it was none the less a military government for that reason. 
On any other ground the whole course of the President would 
have been an unwarrantable usurpation. 

Now, holding first that the President had full authority in the 
matter, I ask, how long does his authority last? It is clearly 
settled by the authorities which I have quoted that it lasts until 
Congress speaks. So long as Congress is silent, the govern- 
ments established by the President will remain. 

It is now time, Mr. Speaker, that Congress should make its 
declaration of policy and principle in reference to these govern- 
ments. Let us not quarrel with the past Let us not endan- 
ger the future because the President's policy in the past has not 
been all we could desire. In one important particular I wish it 
had been different. When he appealed to the people of the South 
to co-operate with him in establishing his military governments, 
I greatly regret that he did not appeal to all the loyal people. 
I regret that he did not recognize the rights and consult the 
wishes of those loyal millions who were made free and made 
citizens also by the events of the war. But let that pass. What 


he did he had a right to do; what remains to be done is for 
Congress and the President in their legislative capacity to deter- 
mine. Our rights in this direction are as ample as the rights of 
conquest. What are they? I read from Woolsey the latest 
utterance of public law, made with direct reference to our war: 
** When a war ends to the disadvantage of the insurgents, muni- 
cipal law may clinch the nail which war has driven, may hang, 
after legal process, instead of shooting, and confiscate the whole 
instead of plundering a part. But a wise and civilized nation 
will exercise only so much of this legal vengeance as the inter- 
ests of lasting order imperiously demand." ^ 

These capacious powers are in our hands. How shall we 
use them? I agree with my friend from Connecticut,* that we 
need not apply the strictissimum jus to these conquered people. 
We should do nothing inconsistent with the spirit and genius 
of our institutions. We should do nothing for revenge, but 
everything for security; nothing for the past, everything for the 
present and the future. Indemnity for the past we can never 
obtain. The three hundred thousand graves in which sleep our 
fathers and brothers, murdered by rebellion, will keep their 
sacred trust till the angel of the resurrection bids the dead come 
forth. The tears, the sorrow, the unutterable anguish of broken 
hearts, can never be atoned for. We turn from that sad but 
glorious past, and demand such securities for the future as can 
never be destroyed. 

And first, we must recognize in all our action the stupendous 
facts of the war. In the very crisis of our fate God brought 
us face to face with the alarming truth that we must lose our 
own freedom or grant it to the slave. In the extremity of our 
distress we called upon the black man to help us save the re-' 
public, and amid the very thunder of battle we made a covenant 
with him sealed both with his blood and ours, and witnessed by 
Jehovah, that when the nation was redeemed he should be free 
and share with us the glories and blessings of freedom. In the 
solemn words of the great proclamation of emancipation, we not 
only declared the slaves forever free, but we pledged the faith 
of the nation " to maintain their freedom," — mark the words, 
^^ to maintain their freedom'' The Omniscient Witness will ap- 
pear in judgment against us if we do not fulfil that covenant. 

* Introduction to the Study of International Law, (New York, 1867,) p. 231. 

* Mr. Deming. 


Have we done it? Have we given freedom to the black man? 
What is freedom? Is it a mere negation, — the bare privilege 
of not being chained, bought and sold, branded and scourged? 
If this be all, then freedom is a bitter mockery, a cruel delusion, 
and it may well be questioned whether slavery were not better. 

But liberty is no negation. It is a substantive, tangible reality. 
It is the realization of those imperishable truths of the Declara- 
tion, " that all men are created equal," that the sanction of all 
just government is " the consent of the governed." Can these 
truths be realized until each man has a right to be heard on all 
matters relating to himself? 

Mr. Speaker, we did more than merely break off the chains 
of the slaves. The abolition of slavery added four million citi- 
zens to the republic. By the decision of the Supreme Court, 
by the decision of the Attorney-General, by the decision of all 
the departments of our government, those men made free are, 
by the act of freedom, made citizens. As another has said, 
they must be " four million disfranchised, disarmed, untaught, 
landless, thriftless, non-producing, non-consuming, degraded 
men, or four million landholding, industrious, arms-bearing, 
and voting population. Choose between the two ! " 

If they are to be disfranchised, if they are to have no voice in 
determining the conditions under which they are to live and 
labor, what hope have they for the future? It will rest with their 
late masters, whose treason they aided to thwart, to determine 
whether negroes shall be permitted to hold property, to enjoy 
the benefits of education, to enforce contracts, to have access to 
the courts of justice, — in short, to enjoy any of those rights 
which give vitality and value to freedom. In that event, who 
can fail to foresee the ruin and misery that await this race, 
to whom the vision of freedom has been presented only to 
be withdrawn, leaving them without even the aid which the 
master's selfish commercial interest in their life and service 
formerly afforded them? Will these negroes, remembering the 
battle-fields on which nearly two hundred thousand of their 
number have so bravely fought, and many thousands have he- 
roically died, submit to oppression as tamely and peaceably as 
in the days of slavery? Under such conditions there could 
be no peace, no security, no prosperity. The spirit of slavery 
is still among us ; it must be utterly destroyed before we shall 
be safe. 


Gibbon has recorded an incident which may serve to illustrate 
the influence of slavery in this country. The Christians of 
Alexandria, under the lead of Theophilus, their bishop, resolved, 
as a means of overthrowing Egyptian idolatry, to demolish the 
temple of Serapis and erect on its ruins a church in honor of 
the Christian martyrs. 

" The colossal statue of Serapis was involved in the ruin of his tem- 
ple and religion It was confidendy affirmed that, if any impious 

hand should dare to violate the majesty of the god, the heavens and 
the earth would instantly return to their original chaos. An intrepid 
soldier, animated by zeal, and armed with a weighty battle-axe, as- 
cended the ladder, and even the Christian multitude expected with 
some anxiety the event of the combat. He aimed a vigorous stroke 
against the cheek of Serapis : the cheek fell to the ground ; the thunder 
was still silent, and both the heavens and the earth continued to pre- 
serve their accustomed order and tranquillity. The victorious soldier 
repeated his blows : the huge idol was overthrown, and broken in 
pieces ; and the limbs of Serapis were ignominiously dragged through 
the streets of Alexandria. His mangled carcass was burnt in the am- 
phitheatre amidst the shouts of the populace ; and many persons attrib- 
uted their conversion to this discovery of the impotence of their tutelar 
deity." ^ 

So sat slavery in this republic. The temple of the Rebellion 
was its sanctuary, and seven million Rebels were its devoted 
worshippers. Our loyal millions resolved to overthrow both 
the temple and its idol. On the first day of January, 1863, 
Abraham Lincoln struck the grim god on the cheek, and the 
faithless and unbelieving among us expected to see the fabric 
of our institutions dissolve into chaos because their idol had 
been smitten. He struck it again; Congress and the States re- 
peated the blow, and its unsightly carcass lies rotting in our 
streets. The sun shines in the heavens brighter than before. 
Let us remove the carcass and leave not a vestige of the mon- 
ster. We shall never have done that, until wc declare that all 
men shall be consulted in regard to the disposition of their lives, 
liberty, and property. 

Is this Congress brave enough and virtuous enough to ap- 
ply that principle to every citizen, whatever be the color of his 
skin? The spirit of our government demands that there shall 
be no rigid, horizontal strata running across our political so- 

1 Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chap. XX VIII. 


ciety, through which some classes of citizens may never pass 
up to the surface ; but it shall be rather like the ocean, where 
every drop can seek the surface and glisten in the sun. Until 
we are true enough and brave enough to declare that in this 
country the humblest, the lowest, the meanest of our citizens 
shall not be prevented from passing to the highest place he is 
worthy to attain, we shall never realize freedom in all its glorious 
meanings. I do not expect we can realize this result imme- 
diately ; it may be impossible to realize it very soon ; but let 
us keep our eyes fixed in that direction, and march toward that 

There is a second great fact which we must recognize, namely, 
that the seven million white men lately in rebellion now stand 
waiting to have their case adjudged, — to have it determined 
what their status shall be in this government. Shall they be 
held under military power? shall they be governed by depu- 
ties appointed by the Executive? or shall they again resume 
the functions of self-government in the Union? — are some of 
the questions growing out of this second fact. 

I will proceed to state, in a few words, what seems to me 
necessary for the practical settlement of this question. In view 
of the events of the war, and the peculiar and novel situation 
of the parties and interests concerned ; in view of the powers 
conferred upon us by the Constitution and the laws of war; 
and in view of the solemn obligations which rest upon us to 
maintain the freedom, security, and peace of all the citizens of 
the republic, — I inquire, What practical measures can we adopt 
best calculated to reach the desired result? It appears to me, 
sir, that we should take action in regard to persons and in re- 
gard to States. 

In reference to persons, we must see to it that, hereafter,, per- 
sonal liberty and personal rights are placed in the keeping of 
the nation ; that the right to life, liberty, and property shall be 
guaranteed to the citizen in reality, as it now is in the words 
of the Constitution, and no longer be left to the caprice of 
mobs or the contingencies of local legislation. If our Consti- 
tution does not now afford all the powers necessary to that end, 
we must ask the people to add them. We must give full force 
and effect to the provision that '* no person shall be deprived 
of life, liberty, or property without due process of law." We 
must make it as true in fact as it is in law, that " The citizens 


of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities 
of citizens in the several States." We must make American 
citizenship the shield that protects every citizen, on every foot 
of our soil. The bill now before the House is one of the means 
for reaching this desirable result. 

What shall be done with the States lately in rebellion? How 
shall we discharge our duty toward them? I shall hail with joy 
the day when they shall all be again in their places, loyally obe- 
dient and fully represented by loyal men. Are they now enti- 
tled to admission? Are they worthy of so great confidence? 
To my mind, Mr. Speaker, the prima facie evidence is against 
them ; the burden of proof rests on each of them to show 
whether it is fit again to enter the Federal circle in full com- 
munion of privileges. We are sitting as a general court 
of the nation. They are to appear at the bar of the repub- 
lic, and show cause why they should be brought in. I say 
the burden of proof is upon their shoulders. When we knew 
them last, they were hurling the lightnings of war against us ; 
they were starving our soldiers whom they held as prisoners 
of war in their dungeons; they were burning our towns; they 
were hating the Union above all things, and were bound by 
bloody oaths to destroy it. Thus stood the case when Con- 
gress adjourned ten months ago. They must give us proof, 
strong as holy writ, that they have washed their hands and 
are worthy again to be trusted. No rumors of change; no 
Delphic oracle, telling beautiful tales of peace and restoration ; 
no gentle declarations like those that we hear from the other 
side of this chamber, that the people of the South " have ac- 
cepted the results of the war," — will suffice. I know they have 
accepted the results of war, — as Buckner accepted them at 
Fort Donelson, as Pemberton accepted them at Vicksburg, as 
Lee accepted them last April in Virginia. 

I hasten to say, Mr. Speaker, that I do not expect seven mil- 
lion men to change their hearts — to love what they hated 
and hate what they loved — on the issue of a battle. Nor are 
we set up as a judge over their beliefs, their loves, or their 
hatreds. Our duty is to demand that before we admit them 
they shall give us sufficient assurance that, whatever they may 
think, believe, or wish, their actions in the future shall be such 
as loyal men can approve. What have they done to give us 
that assurance? 


I hold in my hand, Mr. Speaker, a proclamation issued a few 
days since by Benjamin G. Humphreys, late a general in the 
Rebel army, now the so-called Governor of Mississippi, which 
will illustrate the spirit in which it is desired to administer the 
affairs of reorganized Mississippi. He says : — 

" Whereas section six of an act of the Legislature of the State of Mis- 
sissippi, entitled, * An Act authorizing the issuance of treasury notes as 
advance upon cotton, approved December 19, 1861,' provides that 
whenever the present blockade of the ports of the Confederate States 
shall be removed," etc., etc 

** Now, therefore, I, Benjamin G. Humphreys, Governor of the State 
of Mississippi, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the constitution 
and laws of said State, do hereby proclaim that the blockade of the ports 
of the Confederate States has been removed ; and I do require all per- 
sons to whom advances have been made to deliver the number of bales 
of cotton upon which they have received an advance, in accordance 
with their respective receipts on file in the auditor's office, within ninety 
days from the date of this proclamation." 

Now, what does that mean ? It means that he recognizes as 
valid the acts of the legislature of the late Rebel State of Mis- 
sissippi and of the Confederate States, and bases his proclama- 
tion thereon. This proclamation reached us only a few days 
ago. And yet there are members of this House who ask us to 
admit the Representatives of Mississippi at once! 

Now, Mr. Speaker, in the neighboring State of Virginia a 
law has lately been passed which declares certain negroes 
vagrants, and provides that as a penalty they may be sold 
into slavery. Major-General Terry, on the 24th of January, 
issued his military order nullifying that law. Is that a civil 
government in which the military authorities abrogate the laws? 
Are the men who make such laws worthy of our confidence? 
I say again, the case is against them, the burden of proof is on 
their shoulders. They must purge themselves before I can 
consent to let them in. 

How stands the case in Tennessee, the least treasonable of 
all? In a letter addressed to yourself, Mr. Speaker, under date 
of January 15, 1866, after pleading for the admission of the del- 
egation from that State, Governor Brownlow says : — 

" Not a man south of Tennessee should be admitted until those States 
manifest less of the spirit of rebellion, and elect a more loyal set of men, 
and men who can take the Congressional test oath, which but few of 
those elected can do. 


" If the removal of the Federal troops from Tennessee must necessa- 
rily follow upon the admission of our Congressional delegation to their 
seats, why, then, and in that case, the loyal men of Tennessee beg to be 
without Representatives in Congress. But our members can be admit- 
ted, and a military force retained sufficient to govern and control the 
rebellious. I tell you, and through you all whom it may concern, that 
without a law to disfranchise Rebels and a force to carry out the provis- 
ions of that law, this State will pass into the hands of the Rebels, and a 
terrible state of affairs* is bound to follow. Union men will be driven 
from the State, forced to sacrifice what they have, and seek homes else- 
where. And yet Tennessee is in a much better condition than any of 
the other revolted States, and affords a stronger loyal population. 

" Those who suppose the South is ' reconstructed,' and that her people 
cheerfully accept the results of the war, are fearfully deceived. The whole 
South is full of the spirit of rebellion, and the people are growing more 
bitter and insolent every day. Rebel newspapers are springing up all 
over the South, and speaking out in terms of bitterness and reproach 
against the government of the United States. These papers lead the 
people, and at the same time reflect their sentiments and feelings. Of 
the twenty-one papers in Tennessee, fourteen are decidedly Rebel, out- 
spoken and undisguised, some of them pretending to acquiesce in the 
existing state of affairs. In all the vacancies occurring in our legis- 
lature, even with our franchise law in force, Rebels are invariably 
returned, and in some instances Rebel officers limping from wounds 
received in battle fighting against the United States forces ; and yet 
I tell you that Tennessee is in a better condition than any other re- 
volted State. 

" Others will give you a more favorable account. I cannot in justice 
to myself and the truth. I think I know the Southern people. I have 
lived fifty-eight years in the South of choice, and two at the North of 

In view of these facts, we await further proofs. 

But, sir, there is a duty laid upon us by the Constitution. 
That duty is declared in these words : " The United States shall 
guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of 
government." What does that mean? Read the twenty-first 
and forty-third numbers of the Federalist, and you will under- 
stand what the fathers of the Constitution meant when they put 
that clause into our organic law. With wonderful foresight, 
amounting almost to prophecy, they appear to have foreseen 
just such a contingency as the one that has arisen. Madi- 
son said that an insurrection might arise too powerful to be 
suppressed by the local authorities, and Congress must have 

VOL. 1. 8 



authority to put it down, and to see that no usurping govern- 
ment shall be erected on the ruins of a State. 

What is a republican form of government? When the Union 
was formed the free colored people were not a tenth of the pop- 
ulation of any State. Now all black men are free citizens ; and 
" we are asked," as the lamented Henry Winter Davis has so 
clearly stated it, " to recognize as republican such despot- 
isms as these: in North Carolina 631,000 citizens will ostra- 
cize 331,000 citizens ; in Virginia, 719,000 citizens will ostracize 
533,000 citizens; in Alabama, 596,000 citizens will ostracize 
437,000 citizens; in Louisiana, 357,000 citizens will ostracize 
350,000 citizens; in Mississippi, 353,000 citizens will ostracize 
436,000 citizens ; in South Carolina 291,000 citizens will ostra- 
cize 411,000 citizens." 

We are asked to guarantee all these as republican govern- 
ments ! Gentlemen, upon the other side of the House ask us to 
let such shameless despotisms as these be represented here as 
republican States. I venture to assert that a more monstrous 
proposition was never before made to an American Congress. 

I am therefore in favor of the amendment to the Constitution 
that passed the House yesterday, to reform the basis of repre- 
sentation.^ I could have wished that it had been more thorough 
and searching in its terms; I took it as the best we could get; 
but I say here, before this House, that I will never, so long as I 
have any voice in political affairs, rest satisfied until the way is 
opened by which these colored citizens, so soon as they are 
worthy, shall be lifted to the full rights of citizenship. I will 
not be factious in my action here. If I cannot to-day get all 
I desire, I will try again to-morrow, securing all that can be 
obtained to-day. But so long as I have any voice or vote here, 
it shall aid in giving the suffrage to every citizen qualified, by 
intelligence, to exercise it. 

Mr. Speaker, I know of nothing more dangerous to a republic 
than to put into its very midst four million people stripped of 
the rights of citizenship, robbed of the right of representa- 
tion, but bound to pay taxes to the government. If they can 
endure it, we cannot. The murderer is to be pitied more than 
the murdered man; the robber more than the robbed; and 
we who defraud four million citizens of their rights are injuring 

1 Namely, an amendment adopted by the House, January 31, 1866, but rejected 
by the Senate. 


ourselves vastly more than we are injuring those whom we de- 
fraud. I say that the inequality of rights before the law, which 
is now a part of our system, is more dangerous to us than to 
the black man whom it disfranchises. It is like a foreign sub- 
stance in the body, a thorn in the flesh; it will wound and 
disease the body politic. 

I remember that this question of suffrage caused one of the 
greatest civil wars in the history of Rome. Ninety years before 
Christ, when Rome was near the climax of her glory, just before 
the dawn of the Augustan age, twelve peoples of Italy, to whom 
the franchise was denied, rose in rebellion against Rome ; and 
after three years and ten months of bloody war they compelled 
Rome to make her first capitulation for three hundred years. 
For three hundred years the Roman eagle had been carried 
triumphantly over every battle-field ; but when iron Rome, with 
all her pride and glory, met men who were fighting for the 
right of suffrage, she was compelled to succumb, and give the 
ballot to the twelve peoples to save herself from dissolution. 
Let us learn wisdom from that lesson, and extend the suffrage 
to people who may one day bring us more disaster than foreign 
or domestic war has yet done. 

I must refer for a moment to the proposition of my friend 
from Connecticut,^ who asks us to imbed in the imperishable 
bulwarks of the Constitution an amendment that will forbid 
secession in the future. I want no such change of the Consti- 
tution. The Rebels never had, by the Constitution, the right 
to secede. If we have not settled that question by war, it can 
never be settled by a court. The court of war is higher than 
any other tribunal. As the Governor of Ohio has so well said, 
" These things have been decided in the dread court of last re- 
sort for peoples and nations. By as much as the shock of armed 
hosts is more grand than the intellectual tilt of lawyers, as the 
God of battles is a more awful judge than any earthly court, by 
so much does the dignity of this contest and the finality of this 
decision exceed that of any human tribunal." I care not what 
provision might be in the Constitution ; if any States of this 
Union desire to rebel and break up the Union, and are able to 
do it, they will do it in spite of the Constitution. All I want, 
therefore, is so to amend our Constitution and administer our 
laws as to secure liberty and loyalty among the citizens of the 
Rebel States. 

* Mr. Deming. 


I am not among those who believe that all men in the South 
are enemies in the eye of the law. Their property was " enemy's 
property " when it was transported and used contrary to the 
laws of the government ; but all are not therefore enemies of the 
government. Judge Sprague, in the Amy Warwick case,^ dis- 
tinctly declared that they were only enemies in a technical sense ; 
and in reference to property, Justice Nelson, in 1862, declared 
distinctly that men who resided within the limits of the rebel- 
lious States were not therefore to be considered as enemies. 
He distinctly declared that the question of their property be- 
ing enemy's property depended upon the use made of it. If 
the attempt was made to take and transport the property in 
opposition to law, then it fell under the technical category of 
enemy's property, and not otherwise. I take it for granted that 
the farm of Andrew Johnson, in Tennessee, was never enemy's 
property. If he had undertaken to violate the revenue laws in 
the use of his property, it would have become such. 

I remember that the long range of mountains stretching from 
Western Virginia, through Tennessee and Georgia, to the sand- 
hills of Mississippi, stood like a promontory in the fiery ruin 
with which the Rebellion had involved the republic. I re- 
member that East Tennessee, with its loyal thousands, stood 
like a rock in the sea of treason. I remember that thirty-five 
thousand brave men from Tennessee stood beside us to assist 
in putting down the Rebellion. They are not enemies of the 
country, and never were ; and it is cruelly wicked, by any fic- 
tion of the law, to call them so.. To those patriotic men of 
Tennessee let me say, I want you to show that there is behind 
you a loyal State government, based on the will of loyal peo- 
ple, and that districts of loyal constituents have sent you here. 
When you do that, you shall have my vote in favor of your 
admission. But the burden of proof is on your shoulders. 

Mr. Speaker, let us learn a lesson from the dealings of God 
with the Jewish nation. When his chosen people, led by the 
pillar of cloud and fire, had crossed the Red Sea and traversed 
the gloomy wilderness with its thundering Sipai, its bloody bat- 
tles, disastrous defeats, and glorious victories, — when near the 
end of their perilous pilgrimage they listened to the last words 
of blessing and warning from their great leader, before he was 
buried with immortal honors by the angel of the Lord, — when 
at last the victorious host, sadly joyful, stood on the banks 

^ 2 Sprague 's Decisions, 123. 


of the Jordan, their enemies drowned in the sea or slain in the 
wilderness, — they paused, and, having reviewed the history of 
God's dealings with them, made solemn preparation to pass 
over and possess the land of promise. By the command of 
God, given through Moses and enforced by his great successor, 
the ark of the covenant, containing the tables of the Law and 
the sacred memorials of their pilgrimage, was borne by chosen 
men two thousand cubits in advance of the people. On the 
farther shore stood Ebal and Gerizim, the mounts of cursing 
and blessing, from which, in the hearing of all the people, were 
pronounced the curses of God against injustice and disobe- 
dience, and his blessing upon justice and obedience. On the 
shore, between the mountains and in the midst of the people, a 
monument was erected, and on it was written the words of the 
law, " to be a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever and 
ever." Let us learn wisdom from this illustrious example. We 
have passed the Red Sea of slaughter; our garments are yet 
wet with its crimson spray. We have crossed the fearful wil- 
derness of war, and have left our three hundred thousand heroes 
to sleep beside the dead enemies of the republic. We have 
heard the voice of God amid the thunders of battle command- 
ing us to wash our hands of iniquity, — to '* proclaim liberty 
throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." When 
we spurned his counsels, we were defeated, and the gulfs of 
ruin yawned before us. When we obeyed his voice, he gave 
us victory. And now, at last, we have reached the confines of 
the wilderness. Before us is the land of promise, the land of 
hope, the land of peace, filled with possibilities of greatness 
and glory too vast for the grasp of the imagination. Arc we 
worthy to enter it? On what condition may it be ours to enjoy 
and transmit to our children's children? Let us pause and 
make deliberate and solemn preparation. Let us, as repre- 
sentatives of the people, whose servants we are, bear in ad- 
vance the sacred ark of republican liberty, with its tables of the 
law inscribed with the " irreversible guaranties " of liberty. Let 
us here build a monument on which shall be written, not only 
the curses of the law against treason, disloyalty, and oppres- 
sion, but also an everlasting covenant of peace and blessing 
with loyalty, liberty, and obedience; and all the people will 
say, Amen ! 



February i, 1866, and May 25, 187a 

Pending a bill providing that no ship or vessel which had been re- 
corded or registered as an American vessel pursuant to law, and which 
had afterward been licensed or otherwise authorized to sail under a for- 
eign flag or the protection of a foreign government during the existence 
of the rebellion, should be deemed or registered as an American vessel, 
or should have the rights and privileges of American vessels, except under 
an act of Congress authorizing such registry, Mr. Garfield made the fol- 
lowing remarks, February i, 1866. 

MR. SPEAKER, — Without having examined carefully 
the navigation laws of this country, I have looked into 
tHem enough to be satisfied of one or two things, which I de- 
sire to suggest to this House before the vote is taken on the 
passage of this bill. 

In the first place, we have navigation laws borrowed from 
those monuments of tyranny, the Navigation Laws of Great 
Britain, which, more than any other laws ever enacted by Par- 
liament, were the cause of the American Revolution. Among 
other features of these laws is one that forbids the buying of a 
vessel from a foreign country and sailing it under our flag, if 
it is a foreign bottom, no matter how cheaply we may pur- 
chase it, or under what circumstances we may obtain it. Un- 
less we ourselves lay out upon it more money than the origi- 
nal cost of building the bottom abroad, we cannot sail it under 
the American flag. That, of course, shuts out all foreign-built 
vessels, however valuable they may be at any time. But I am 
not discussing that subject now, nor will I enter into a con- 
sideration of it at this time. 

The question now under consideration is this. During this 
great war, when we were unable to protect our shipping on the 




high seas, to protect our ships sailing under our own flag, 
there were many patriotic American citizens who simply regis- 
tered their vessels for sailing under a foreign flag, that they 
might carry on their commerce without having their property 
destroyed by the pirates infesting the seas: Now, when eight 
hundred thousand tons of American shipping has thus been 
transferred by registry or by sale to foreign flags, it is pro- 
posed that none of it shall ever be registered again with the 
rights and privileges of American vessels, except by express 
act of Congress. One fifth of our tonnage has left us, and by 
this bill will be wholly excluded from our merchant marine. 

Now, one gentleman ^ has spoken of these vessels as deserters 
in the same way precisely that we speak of deserters from our 
army. I care far more about our tonnage on the sea than I 
care about the individual shipper who took a register under a 
foreign flag. It is not now a question with me what the status 
of the shipper himself may be. I do not propose to injure all 
the interests of our merchant marine for the purpose of spiting 
a few of our speculators. It seems to me it would show a great 
want of proper policy on our part to do so. 

Mr. Lynch. What I did say was this : that it would be impolitic for 
any government to encourage the desertion of its citizens with their 
property during a period of war, those citizens identifying their interests 
for the time being with the interests of the enemy. My remarks had no 
reference whatever to " skippers." I did say, and I now repeat, that 
every man who, during the war, put his vessel under a foreign flag iden- 
tified his interests with those of the foreigners who were assisting in the 
destruction of our commerce ; and if we encourage such desertion, and 
pay a premium upon it, some of our citizens will always desert us with 
their property in time of war. I hold that we should not give encourage- 
ment to conduct of this sort. 

Mr. Speaker, if in time of war I own a piece of property 
which I cannot keep safe in this country, and the keeping of 
which will ruin me pecuniarily, I ask whether the Congress of 
my country should prohibit me from selling that property to 
foreigners, or, if I have sold it, prohibit me from repurchasing 
it and using it here where I first acquired that property? If I 
sell to a Canadian, or any other foreigner, an engine which I 
own, and which I have used perhaps to operate a saw-mill on 
the Ohio, is it right that I should be prohibited from repurchas- 

1 Mr. Lynch, of Maine. 


ing that engine by and by, and using it in this country? Now, 
sir, this bill proposes that, whenever an American vessel shall 
have been sold to a foreigner, or even registered to sail under 
a foreign flag, such vessel shall never be permitted to re-enter 
our service without special authority from Congress. 

Mr. Eliot. This bill does not refer to sales of vessels at all, neither 
sham sales nor bona fide sales. It only covers a class of cases where 
American ship-owners have obtained for their vessels the protection of 
foreign powers, have procured permits or licenses from foreign govem- 
ments, thus waiving the benefit of their own flag for the sake of securing 
the protection of foreign powers. The bill provides that in such cases 
the vessel shall no longer be deemed an American vessel, unless the 
party interested can satisfy Congress that the vessel ought to be granted 
an American register. 

Mr. Speaker, the gentleman's statement is all the worse for 
his cause. He says that the bill does not apply to a vessel that 
was sold, alienated to a foreigner, but pierely to vessels which 
were registered to sail under a foreign flag that could protect 
them. What the owners in the latter cases did is not nearly so 
bad as the act of those who alienated their vessels to foreigners. 
I say that the owner of a vessel, if our flag cannot protect it, 
ought to be entitled to register his vessel under a flag that can 
protect it; and when we are again able to protect it, I am in 
favor, if not for his sake, at least for the sake of the merchant 
service, of allowing his vessel to come back and sail under our 
flag, and thus increase our tonnage. 

I maintain that this question is 'a matter of tonnage, and not 
of men. I am in favor of the amendment suggested by my 
colleague,^ that all these cases be referred to the Secretary of 
the Treasury, who may look into the question of the loyalty of 
the owner; and that the Secretary of the Treasury shall be au- 
thorized to register his vessel, if he be a loyal man. I would be 
the last man to grant any favor to a rebel ; but I would grant 
favors to the American merchant service. I would increase our 

Some gentlemen here propose to wait for the increase of our 
tonnage until the shipbuilders of Maine and New Hampshire, 
and other States on the Atlantic seaboard, can build us vessels. 
The gentleman from Maine ^ has said that in Nova Scotia vessels 
can be built at a cost of forty dollars to the ton, while in Maine 

1 Mr. Spaulding. a Mr. Pike. 



their construction costs one hundred dollars to the ton. There- 
fore, it is urged, we cannot compete with foreign shipbuilders. 
Now I do not propose to give the men in the Atlantic cities 
sixty dollars on the hundred, when we can get increased service 
for the country by simply re-registering the vessels which we 
could not protect. 

Mr. Pike. Will the gentleman tell me what difference it makes to the 
shipper in New York, whether he imports his goods in British or Ameri- 
can bottoms ? What difference is there in insurance ? And will he tell 
me further, whether it is not a fact that of the goods imported more than 
seventy-five per cent do not come in British bottoms ? 

I will answer the gentleman with one general fact, namely, 
that, for some reason deemed good by them, the owners of those 
vessels which have been registered under foreign flags desire to 
bring their ships back. That is proved. If it is for the advantage 
of the ships to come back for business, they will come back. 

Mr. Pike. The gentleman speaks, not of shipbuilders, but of mer- 
chants. He says that merchants would forthwith have to pay enhanced 
prices for vessels. I ask him whether he cannot employ British ships 
on precisely the same terms to import his goods as American ships ? 
Let him answer that question. 

Mr. Speaker, we are talking now of shipping, and not of the 
interests of merchants of New York. We arc talking of our 
general power to export and import goods ; and now, when it is 
proved that a part of our tonnage has gone during the war, we 
are asked to keep it out in order that the shipbuilders of this 
country may have the job of filling the vacuum. I propose we 
shall fill that vacuum by the most expeditious method in our 

I call this House to witness that at the last session I declared, 
as I now declare, myself forever opposed to all monopolies, 
whether of railroads, shipbuilders, or of any other associations, 
which propose to cripple the commerce of the republic cither 
among the States or upon the high seas. I look on this as one 
of those monopolies, and I am surprised that my able and dis- 
tinguished friend from the Galena district, Illinois,^ should vote 
in any other way than against this measure, he being a strong 
anti-monopoly man, as he has so often avowed himself on this 
floor. I do not care what political company it puts me in; I 

^ Mr. Washburn. 


do not care who associates with me; I shall associate with 
every man who puts his foot down on these monopolies, one 
of which I declare this to be. 

[After some brief speeches from several gentlemen, Mr. Garfield con- 

Mr. Speaker, I have only two things to say before I call for 
the previous question and close the debate. 

The distinguished gentleman from Massachusetts^ said this 
was a proposition to exclude men who had deserted our flag. 
I declare the gentleman has not met the point. It is not a law 
against men; it is a law against tonnage, and not men. He 
may make all the legislation he pleases against letting disloyal 
men come back, and I will vote with him ; but let him make 
that discrimination. 

He says we propose to change the policy of the government. 
My answer is in one word. It is the gentleman himself who 
is proposing to change the policy of the government, as the 
Secretary of the Treasury is every day allowing these vessels 
to be re-rcgistered. They propose by this change of the law to 
keep these vessels out of our merchant marine. We are simply 
opposing a change in the law in favor of a monopoly. 

The gentleman from Maine ^ says, if we make free trade on 
this subject, let us make free trade on all. He will not deter 
me from my purpose by shaking that red rag before me. I do 
not care what name he calls it ; I know it is not free trade ; I 
know only that what he proposes is to discriminate against all 
other property and in favor of the property of the shipbuilders. 
If he will apply the same law to property in ships that he applies 
to all kinds of property in the great West, then he will find that 
he cannot maintain his law. All I ask is that the same law 
shall be applied to both. I call the previous question. 

On the 25th of May, 1870, pending a bill to revive the navigation 
and the commercial interests of the United States, by means of rebates 
of duties on shipbuilding materials imported, and by means of bounties 
on tonnage, Mr. Garfield said : — 

Mr. Speaker, — I desire in the ten minutes awarded me to 
present three points for the consideration of the House. 

1 Mr. Banks. a Mr. Blaine 



I have studied this subject as presented in the report of the 
committee and elsewhere, and it seems to me that the trouble 
about our tonnage at the present time is not that there is a lack 
of tonnage on the ocean, but that American people do not con- 
trol a requisite share of that tonnage. It seems to me we shall 
make a mistake if we proceed on the supposition that there is 
a lack of tonnage, and that greater means of transportation on 
the high seas are needed. In a report made in 1 861 by an 
American consul, which appears to be a very comprehensive 
one, it was shown that the tonnage of the world was about 
seventeen million tons, of which the United States owned five 
and a half millions ; Great Britain five and three quarters mil- 
lions ; and all other countries about five and three quarters mil- 
lions. Or we might say that the tonnage on the high seas was 
about equally divided into three equal shares, of which one was 
held by the United States, one by Great Britain, and one by all 
other countries. 

It appears that now, in consequence of the war and various 
other causes, there has been a change in the relative ownership 
of the tonnage, but not in the total amount. There are no 
complaints from shippers that they cannot get merchandise 
shipped across the sea. They complain only that the Ameri- 
can flag does not cover a sufficient amount of the tonnage. 
The question, then, which we have to determine, is this : Will 
we remedy the evil by increasing the total volume of tonnage, 
or shall we seek some method of placing a greater share of it 
under the American flag? 

From the latest reports of our Treasury Department, it ap- 
pears that the total tonnage of Great Britain is now 5,500,000 
tons, while the tonnage of the United States is 4,144,640 tons. 
But the tonnage of the United States includes 1,523,931 tons in 
the coasting trade, 661,366 on our lakes, and 392,901 on our 
rivers, leaving our ocean tonnage only 1,566,421 tons, — vastly 
less than it was before the war. 

The trouble is not that we have not tonnage at home ; it is 
that we lack tonnage on the seas. At the present moment 
there are one hundred and seventeen steamers that plough the 
ocean between America and Europe, and not one of them flies 
the American flag. Nevertheless, a respectable share of the 
capital in those ships is owned by Americans. The German 
line is very largely owned by American citizens; the Guion 


line is, I think, also mainly owned by American citizens ; but 
these citizens are compelled to put their capital into ships that 
sail under foreign flags. These facts present the first point I 
desired to make, in order that we may see where the difficulty 
lies, and keep this fact in view in adopting remedies. 

I now desire to call the attention of the House to a second 
point, which is this. I object to the bill as reported by the 
committee because it docs not give aid to that part of our com- 
merce that needs relief, to our foreign tonnage, and does give 
aid where relief is not needed. Now, I can have no better 
pfoof of this than the sensitiveness of the gentleman from 
Maine ^ in regard to any amendment which shall limit the 
operation of the bill to vessels engaged in foreign trade. When 
the bill was open to amendment yesterday, and when the gen- 
tleman from lowa^ proposed an amendment of six words to 
limit all these drawbacks, bounties, subsidies, tonnage dues, and 
various aids provided in the bill to ships of two thousand tons 
and upward, the gentleman in charge of the bill would not 
permit the amendment to be offered. This morning the gen- 
tleman has offered a substitute, which I have read at the clerk's 
desk, and I find it only limits the operation of the bill to ships 
of one thousand tons and upward, which would include a large 
share of the shipping even on our Northern lakes, and which, 
in all its more important features, will apply to the coasting 
trade. I desire, therefore, to say that, whatever may be the 
purpose of those who support this bill, it is perfectly clear 
that it will give great additional advantages to the builders of 
ships for the coasting trade, — a class of men who are to-day 
engaged in a business of which they have the absolute monop- 
oly as against all foreigners. There is not a keel owned or 
built by foreigners that can, under our laws, engage in our lake 
and coasting trade. All the vessels engaged in it are built and 
wholly owned by Americans. There appears to be no other 
falling off in our coasting trade than that which the natural 
competition of railroads has produced. Now, notwithstanding 
this monopoly, a bill is proposed that cannot take less than 
ten million dollars a year out of the treasury, to increase the 
profits of those who are engaged m building vessels for the 
coasting trade. 

But I have further asserted that this bill will not give the 

1 Mr. Lynch. 2 ^fr. Allison. 


needed relief to our foreign commerce. And why? It will 
not enable our shipbuilders to compete with the shipbuilders 
of the Clyde. From the study that I have been able to give to 
the subject, I affirm that all the subsidies, bounties, and draw- 
backs provided in this bill will not enable us to compete with 
the cheap iron vessels built on that river. Germany and all the 
maritime countries of Europe, even those that admit shipbuilding 
materials free of duty, have utterly failed to compete with the 
Clyde shipbuilders. All the maritime countries of Europe are 
to-day going to them to buy their vessels for their own trade. 
The price of labor and materials there is so much less than here 
that it will require nearly one hundred per cent of government 
aid to enable us to compete with them. This is the testimony 
of experts and the experience of other nations. I affirm, there- 
fore, that for the purposes of our foreign trade this bill is wholly 
inadequate, and for the purposes of the coasting trade it is 
wholly unnecessary. On this statement, to which I challenge the 
attention of the House, I rest my opposition to this bill. But I 
will add another consideration. 

There is one feature of this bill, the subsidy provision, which 
is odious to the American people. It is a feature, I think, 
which no man in this House, certainly no representative of an 
inland district, can support and sustain himself before his con- 
stituents. And now we are called upon, at the last moment, to 
vote, as we shall be compelled to do, I presume, under the pre- 
vious question, upon a new bill, which has not yet been read, 
but which has been reported by the committee as a substitute 
for the original bill and all the amendments. Under these cir- 
cumstances, I think it wiser to lay the bill and the pending 
amendments on the table, or to recommit and postpone it until 
in calmer times and with fuller deliberation we can devise some 
real and effective remedy for our decayed commerce. I am 
not at liberty to make a motion on this subject, and will now 
return the floor to the gentleman from Illinois,^ by whose 
courtesy I have been occupying it. 

1 Mr. Farnsworth. 




June 8, 1866. 

At its annual meeting held in Washington, D. C, in February, 1866, 
the National Association of School Superintendents memorialized Con- 
gress to establish a National Bureau of Education. A bill was also pre- 
pared by the direction of the Association, embodying its vievi's. By the 
request of the Association, Mr. Garfield presented the memorial and the 
bill in the House of Representatives. The bill was read twice, referred to 
a select committee of seven, and ordered printed. April 3 following, he 
reported from the committee d substitute for the original bill, — changed 
only in the name. June % he closed the debate upon the bill in the 
following speech. The vote was adverse. Immediately a motion to 
reconsider was entered. June 1 9, the motion to reconsider was carried, 
and the bill passed. At the next session the bill passed the Senate, and 
the President's approval, March 2, 1867, made it law. 

This measure was peculiarly Mr. Garfield's work. He introduced the 
subject to the House, was the chairman of the special committee, re- 
ported the second bill, and was its principal champion on the floor. 
Both the Bureau and his speech attracted the attention of educators and 
the friends of education beyond the sea. An example is furnished by 

the following letter : — 

" RocHDvVLE, January 4, 186S. 

" Dear Sir, — I ^vrite to thank you for sending me a copy of General 
Garfield's speech on education. I have read it with much interest 

" The department now to be constituted at Washington will doubt- 
less prepare statistics which will inform the world of what is doing in the 
United States on the Education question ; and the volume it will publish 
will have a great effect in this country, and, indeed, in all civilized 
countries. You will have observed the increased interest in education 
shown in England since the extension of the suffrage. I hope some 
great and good measure may be passed at an early period. I am very 

truly yours. 

"John Bright. 

"George J. Abbott, Esq., United States Consul, Sheffield." 


The bill as drawn by Mr. Garfield, and as it became a law, is as 
follows : — 

" An Act to establish a Department of Education. 

" Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United 
States of America in Congress assembled^ That there shall be established, 
at the city of Washington, a Department of Education, for the purpose 
of collecting such statistics and facts as shall show the condition and pro- 
gress of education in the several States and Territories, and of diffusing 
such information respecting the organization and management of schools 
and school systems, and methods of teaching, as shall aid the people 
of the United States in the establishment and maintenance of efficient 
, school systems, and otherwise promote the cause of education throughout 
the country. 

" Sec. 2. And be it further enacted y That there shall be appointed by 
the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, a Com- 
missioner of Education, who shall be intrusted with the management of 
the Department herein established, and who shall receive a salary of four 
thousand dollars per annum, and who shall have authority to appoint one 
chief clerk of his Department, who shall receive a salary of two thousand 
dollars per annum, one clerk who shall receive a salary of eighteen 
hundred dollars per annum, and one clerk who shall receive a salary of 
sixteen hundred dollars per annum, which said clerks shall be subject to 
the appointing and removing power of the Commissioner of Education. 

" Sec. 3. And be it further enacted^ That it shall be the duty of the 
Commissioner of Education to present annually to Congress a report 
embod}ing the results of his investigations and labors, together with a 
statement of such facts and recommendations as will, in his judgment, 
subserve the purpose for which this Department is established. In the 
first report made by the Commissioner of TLducation under this act, 
there shall be presented a statement of the several grants of land made by 
Congress to promote education, and the manner in which these several 
trusts have been managed, the amount of funds arising therefrom, and 
the annual proceeds of the same, as far as the same can be determined. 

" Sec. 4. And be it further enacted. That the Commissioner of Public 
Buildings is hereby authorized and directed to furnish proper offices for 
the use of the Department herein established.'* 

MR. SPEAKER, — I did intend to make a somewhat elabo- 
rate statement of the reasons why the select committee 
recommend the passage of this bill ; but I know the anxiety 
that many gentlemen feel to have the debate concluded, to 


allow the private bills now on the calendar, and set for to- 
day, to be disposed of, and to complete as soon as possible 
the work oif this session. I will therefore abandon my original 
purpose, and restrict myself to a brief statement of a few 
leading points in the argument, and leave the decision with 
the House. I hope this waiving of a full discussion of the bill 
will not be construed into a confession that it is inferior in 
importance to any measure before the House; for I know of 
none that has a nobler object, or that more vitally affects the 
future -of this nation. 

I first ask the House to consider the magnitude of the 
interests involved in the bill. The very attempt •to discover ' 
the amount of pecuniary and personal interest we have in our 
schools shows the necessity of such a law as is here proposed. 
I have searched in vain for any complete or reliable statistics 
showing the educational condition of the whole country. The 
estimates that I have made are gathered from various sources^ 
and can be only approximately correct. I am satisfied, how- 
ever, that they are far below the truth. 

Even from the incomplete and imperfect educational sta- 
tistics of the Census Bureau, it appears that in i860 there 
were in the United States 115,224 common schools, 500,000 
school officers, 150,241 teachers, and 5,477,037 scholars; thus 
showing that more than 6,000,000 of the people of the United 
States are directly engaged in the work of education. Not 
only has this large proportion of our population been thus 
engaged, but the Congress of the United States has given 
53,000,000 acres of public lands to fourteen States and Ter- 
ritories of the Union for the support of schools. In the old 
ordinance of 1785, it was provided that one section of every 
township — one thirty-sixth of all the public lands of the 
United States — should be set apart, and held forever sacred 
to the support of the schools of the country. In the ordinance 
of 1787, it was declared that, "religion, morality, and knowl- 
edge being necessary to good government and the happiness 
of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever 
be encouraged." It is estimated that at least $50,000,000 
has been given in the United States by private individuals 
for the support of schools. We have thus an interest, even 
pecuniarily considered, hardly second to any other. We have 
school statistics tolerably complete from only seventeen States 


of the Union. Our Congressional library contains no edu- 
cational reports whatever from the remaining nineteen. In 
those seventeen States, there are 90,835 schools, 129,000 teach- 
ers, 5,107,285 pupils; and $34,000,000 is annually appropri- 
ated by the legislatures for the support and maintenance of 
common schools. Notwithstanding the great expenditures en- 
tailed upon them during four years of war, they raised by 
taxation $34,000,000 annually for the support of public edu- 
cation. In several States of the Union, more than fifty per 
cent of all the tax imposed for State purposes is for the sup- 
port of the public schools. And yet gentlemen are impatient 
because we wish to occupy a short time in considering this 

I will not trouble the House by repeating such commonplaces, 
so familiar to every gentleman here, as that our system of govern- 
ment is based upon the intelligence of the people. But I wish 
to suggest that there never has been a time when all our educa- 
tional forces should be in such perfect activity as at the present 
day. Ignorance — stolid ignorance — is not our most dangerous 
enemy. There is very little of that kind of ignorance among the 
white population of this country. In the Old World, among 
the despotic governments of Europe, the great disfranchised 
class — the pariahs of political and social life — are indeed 
ignorant, mere inert masses, moved and controlled by the intel- 
ligent and cultivated aristocracy. Any unrepresented and hope- 
lessly disfranchised class in a government will inevitably be 
struck with intellectual paralysis. Our late slaves afford a sad 
illustration. But among the represented and voting classes of 
this country, where all are equal before the law, and every man 
is a political power for good or evil, there is but little of the 
inertia of ignorance. The alternatives are not education or no 
education ; but shall the power of the citizen be directed aright 
towards industry, liberty, and patriotism? or, under the baneful 
influence of false theories and evil influences, shall it lead him 
continually downward, and work out anarchy and ruin, both to 
him and the government? If he is not educated in the school 
of virtue and integrity, he will be educated in the school of vice 
and iniquity. We are, therefore, afloat on the sweeping current: 
we must make head against it, or we shall go down with it to 
the saddest of destinies. According to the census of i860, 
there were 1,218,311 inhabitants of the United States over 

VOL. L 9 


twenty-one years of age who could not read or write; and 
871,418 of these were American-born citizens. One third of a 
million of people are being annually thrown upon our shores 
from the Old World, a large per cent of whom are uneducated ; 
and the gloomy total has been swelled by the four million slaves 
admitted to citizenship by the events of the war. 

Such, sir, is the immense force which we must now confront 
by the genius of our institutions and the light of our civiliza- 
tion. How shall it be done? An American citizen can give 
but one answer. We must pour upon them all the light of our 
public schools. We must make them intelligent, industrious, 
patriotic citizens, or they will drag us and our children down to 
their level. Does not this question rise to the full height of 
national importance, and demand the best efforts of statesman- 
ship to adjust it? 

Horace Mann has well said, — 

" Legislators and rulers are responsible. In our country and in our 
times no man is worthy the honored name of a statesman who does not 
include the highest practicable education of the people in all his plans 
of administration. He may have eloquence, he may have a knowledge 
of all history, diplomacy, jurispmdence, and by these he may claim, in 
other countries, the elevated rank of a statesman ; but unless he speaks, 
plans, labors, at all times and in all places, for the culture and edification 
of the whole people, he is not, he cannot be, an American statesman." ^ 

Gentlemen who have discussed the bill this morning tell us 
that it will result in great expense to the government. Whether 
an enterprise is expensive or not is altogether a relative ques- 
tion, to be determined by the importance of the object in view. 

Now, what have we done as a nation in the way of expenses? 
In 1832 we organized a Coast Survey Bureau, and have ex- 
pended millions upon it. Its officers have triangulated thou- 
sands of miles of our coasts, have made soundings of all our 
bays and harbors, and carefully mapped the shoals, breakers, 
and coast-lines from our northern boundary on the Atlantic to 
the extreme northern boundary on the Pacific coast. They 
have established eight hundred tidal stations to observe the fluc- 
tuations of the tides. We have expended vast sums in order 
perfectly to know the topography of our coasts, lakes, and rivers, 
that we might make navigation more safe. Is it of no conse- 
quence that we explore the boundaries of that wonderful intel- 

> Life and Works, Vol. II. p. 1S8 (Cambridge, 1867). 


lectual empire which encloses within its domain the fate of 
succeeding generations and of this republic? The children of 
to-day will be the architects of our country's destiny in 1900. 

We have established an Astronomical Observatory, where 
the movements of the stars are watched, latitude and longitude 
calculated, and chronometers regulated for the benefit of navi- 
gation. For this observatory we pay one third of a million per 
annum. Is it of no consequence that you observe the move- 
ments of those stars which shall, in the time to come, be guid- 
ing 3tars in our national firmament? 

We have established a Light-House Board that is employing 
all the aids of science to discover the best modes of regulating 
the beacons upon our shores : it is placing buoys as way-marks 
to guide ships safely into our harbors. Will you not create a 
light-house board to set up beacons for the coming genera- 
tion, not as lights to the eye, but to the mind and heart, that 
shall guide them safely in the perilous voyage of life, and enable 
them to transmit the blessings of liberty to those who shall 
come after them ? 

We have set on foot a score of expeditions to explore the 
mountains and valleys, the lakes and rivers, of this and other 
countries. We have expended money without stint to explore 
the Amazon and the Jordan, Chili and Japan, the gold shores 
of Colorado and the copper cliffs of Lake Superior, to gather 
and publish the great facts of science, and to exhibit the 
material resources of physical nature. Will you refuse the 
pitiful sum of $13,000 to collect and record the intellectual 
resources of this country, the elements that lie behind all 
material wealth, and make it either a curse or a blessing? 

We have paid three quarters of a million dollars for the sur- 
vey of the route for the Pacific Railroad, and have published 
the results, at a great cost, in thirteen quarto volumes, with 
accompanying maps and charts. The money for these pur- 
poses was freely expended. And now, when it is proposed to 
appropriate $13,000 to aid in increasing the intelligence of 
those who will use that great continental highway when it is 
completed, we are reminded of our debts, and warned against 
increasing our expenditures. It is difficult to treat such an 
objection with the respect that is always due in this hall of 

We have established a Patent- Office, where are annually 


accumulated thousands of models of new machines invented 
by our people. Will you make no expenditure for the benefit 
of the intelligence that shall stand behind those machines, and 
be their controller? Will you bestow all your favors upon the 
engine and ignore the engineer? I will not insult the intelli- 
gence of this House by waiting to prove that money paid for 
education is the most economical of all expenditures ; that it is 
cheaper to prevent crime than to build jails ; that schoolhouses 
are less expensive than rebellions. A tenth of our national 
debt expended in public education fifty years ago would . have 
saved us the blood and treasure of the late war. A far less sum 
may save our children from a still greater calamity. 

We expend hundreds of thousands annually to promote the 
agricultural interests of the country, — to introduce the best 
methods in all that pertains to husbandry. Is it not of more 
consequence to do something for the farmer of the future than 
for the farm of to-day? As man is more precious than soil, as 
the immortal spirit is nobler than the clod it animates, so is the 
object of this bill more important than any mere pecuniary 

The genius of our government does not allow us to establish 
a compulsory system of education, as is done in some of the 
countries of Europe. There are States in this Union, however, 
which have adopted a compulsory system; and perhaps that 
is well. It is for each State to determine. A distinguished 
gentleman from Rhode Island told me lately, that it is now the 
law in that State that every child within its bordefs shall attend 
school, and that every vagrant child shall be taken in charge by 
the authorities, and sent to school. It may be well for other 
States to pursue the same course; but probably the general 
government can do nothing of the sort. Whether it has the 
right of compulsory control or not, we propose none in this 
bill. But we do propose to use that power, so effective in this 
country, of letting in light on subjects, and holding them up 
to the verdict of public opinion. If it could be published 
annually from this Capitol, through every school district of the 
United States, that there are States in the Union that have no 
system of common schools, — and if their records could be 
placed beside the records of such States as Massachusetts, New 
York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and other States that have a com- 
mon-school system, — the mere statement of the fact would 


rouse their energies, and compel them for shame to educate 
their children. It would shame all the delinquent States out of 
their delinquency. 

Mr. Speaker, if I were called upon to-day to point to that in 
my own State of which I am most proud, I would not point to 
any of the flaming lines of her military record, to the heroic 
men and the brilliant officers she gave to this contest ; I would 
not point to any of her leading men of the past or the present : 
but I would point to her common schools; I would point to the 
honorable fact, that in the great struggle of five years, through 
which we have just passed, she has expended $12,000,000 for 
the support of her public schools. I do not include in that 
amount the sums expended upon our higher institutions of learn- 
ing. I would point to the fact, that fifty-two per cent of the 
taxation of Ohio for the last five years, aside from the war-tax 
and the tax for the payment of her public debt, has been for 
the support of her schools. I would point to the schools of 
Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo, and other cities of the State, if I 
desired a stranger to see the glory of Ohio. I would point to 
the 13,000 schoolhouses and the 700,000 pupils in the schools of 
Ohio. I would point to the $3,000,000 she has paid for schools 
during the last year alone. This, in my judgment, is the proper 
gauge by which to measure the progress and glory of States. 

Gentlemen tell us there is no need of this bill ; the States are 
doing well enough now. Do they know through what a strug- 
gle every State has come up that has secured a good system 
of common schools? Let me illustrate this by one example. 

Notwithstanding the early declaration of William Penn, •*That 
which makes a good constitution must keep it, namely, men of 
wisdom and virtue, — qualities that, because they descend not 
with worldly inheritance, must be carefully propagated by a vir- 
tuous education of youth, for which spare no cost, for by such 
parsimony all that is saved is lost " ; notwithstanding that wise 
master-builder incorporated this sentiment in his "framework of 
government," and made it the duty of the Governor and Council 
"to establish and support public schools"; notwithstanding 
Benjamin Franklin, from the first hour he became a citizen of 
Pennsylvania, inculcated the value of useful knowledge to every 
human being in every walk of life, and by his personal and pe- 
cuniary effort did establish schools and a college for Philadel- 
phia; notwithstanding the Constitution of Pennsylvania made it 


obligatory upon the legislature to foster the education of the 
citizens: notwithstanding all this, it was not till 1833-34 that a 
system of common schools, supported in part by taxation of the 
property of the State, for the common benefit of all the chil- 
dren of the State, was established by law ; and although the law 
was passed by an almost unanimous vote of both branches of 
the legislature, so foreign was the idea of public schools to the 
habits of the people, so odious was the idea of taxation for this 
purpose, that even the poor who were to be specially benefited 
were so deluded by political demagogues as to clamor for its 
repeal. Many members who voted for the law lost their nom- 
inations; and others, although nominated, lost their elections. 
Some were weak enough to pledge themselves to a repeal of the 
law; and in the session of 1835 there was an almost certain 
prospect of its repeal, and the adoption in its place of an 
odious and limited provision for educating the children of the 
poor by themselves. In the darkest hour of the debate, when 
the hearts of the original friends of the system were failing 
from fear, there rose on the floor of the House one of its early 
champions ; one who, though not a native of the State, felt like 
a knife in his bosom the disgrace which the repeal of this law 
would inflict; one who, though no kith or kin of his would be 
benefited by the operations of the system, and who, though he 
would share its burdens, would only partake with every citizen 
in its blessings; one who voted for the original law although 
introduced by his political opponents, and who had defended 
and gloried in his vote before an angry and unwilling constit- 
uency: this man, then in the beginning of his public career, 
threw himself into the conflict, and by his earnest and brave 
eloquence saved the law, and gave a noble system of common 
schools to Pennsylvania. I doubt if at this hour, after the 
thirty years crowded full of successful labors at the bar, before 
the people, and in halls of legislation, the venerable and dis- 
tinguished member, who now represents a portion of the same 
State in this House,^ can recall any other speech of his life 
with half the pleasure he does that one ; for no measure with 
which his name has been connected is so fraught with bless- 
ings to hundreds of thousands of children, and to homes in- 
numerable. I hold in my hand a copy of his brave speech, 
and I ask the clerk to read the passages that I have marked. 

* Mr. Stevens. 


" I am comparatively a stranger among you, bom in another, in a dis- 
tant State : no parent or kindred of mine did, does, or probably ever will 
dwell within your borders. I have none of those strong cords to bind 
me to your honor and your interest ; yet, if there is any one thing on 
earth which I ardently desire above all others, it is to see Pennsylvania 
standing up in her intellectual, as she confessedly does in her physical 
resources, high above all her confederate rivals. How shameful, then, 
would it be for these her native sons to feel less so, when the dust of their 
ancestors is mingled with her soil, their friends and relatives enjoy her 
present prosperity, and their descendants, for long ages to come, will par- 
take of her happiness or misery, her glory or her infamy ! . . . . 

" In giving this law to posterity you act the part of the philanthropist, 
by bestowing upon the poor, as well as the rich, the greatest earthly boon 
which they are capable of receiving ; you act the part of the philosopher, 
by pointing, if you do not lead them, up the hill of science ; you act the 
part of the hero, if it be true, as you say, that popular vengeance follows 
dose upon your footsteps. Here, then, if you wish true popularity, is a 
theatre on which you may acquire it 

" Let all, therefore, who would sustain the character of the philosopher 
or philanthropist, sustain this law. Those who would add thereto the 
glory of the hero can acquire it here ; for, in the present state of feeling 
in Pennsylvania, I am willing to admit that but littie less dangerous to 
the public man is the war-club and battle-axe of savage ignorance than 
to the lion-hearted Richard was the keen cimeter of the Saracen. He 
who would oppose it, either through inability to comprehend the advan- 
tages of general education, or from unwillingness to bestow them on all 
his fellow-citizens, even to the lowest and the poorest, or from dread of 
popular vengeance, seems to me to want either the head of the philoso- 
pher, the heart of the philanthropist, or the nerve of the hero." 

He has lived long enough to see this law, which he helped to 
found in 1834, and more than any other man was instrumental 
in saving from repeal in 1835, expanded and consolidated into 
a noble system of public instruction. Twelve thousand schools 
have been built by the voluntary taxation of the people, at a 
cost, for schoolhouses alone, of nearly $10,000,000. Many mil- 
lions of children have been educated in these schools. More 
than seven hundred thousand attended the public schools of 
Pennsylvania in 1864-65; and their annual cost, provided by 
voluntary taxation in the year 1864, was nearly $3,000,000, 
giving employment to sixteen thousand teachers. It is glory 
enough for one man to have connected his name so honorably 
with the original establishment and effective defence of such a 


But it is said that the thirst for knowledge among the young, 
and the pride and ambition of parents for their children, are 
agencies powerful enough to establish and maintain thorough 
and comprehensive systems of education. This suggestion is 
answered by the unanimous voice of publicists and political 
economists. They all admit that the doctrine of " demand and 
supply '* does not apply to educational wants. Even the most 
extreme advocates of the principle of laissez faire, as a sound 
maxim of political philosophy, admit that governments must 
interfere in aid of education. We must not wait for the wants 
of the rising generation to be expressed in a demand for means 
of education. We must ourselves discover or supply their needs 
before the time for supplying them has forever passed. John 
Stuart Mill says: — 

" But there are other things, of the worth of which the demand of the 
market is by no means a test ; things of which the utility does not consist 
in ministering to inclinations, nor in serving the daily uses of life, and 
the want of which is least felt where the need is greatest. This is pecu- 
liarly true of those things which are chiefly useful as tending to raise the 
character of human beings. The uncultivated cannot be competent 
judges of cultivation. 

" Those who most need to be made wiser and better usually desire it 
least, and, if they desired it, would be incapable of finding the way to it 
by their own lights. It will continually happen, on the voluntary system, 
that, the end not being desired, the means will not be provided at all, or 
that, the persons requiring improvement having an imperfect or alto- 
gether erroneous conception of what they want, the supply called forth 
by the demand of the market will be anything but what is really required. 
Now, any well-intentioned and tolerably civilized government may tliink, 
without presumption, that it does, or ought to, possess a degree of culti- 
vation above the average of the community which it rules, and that it 
should therefore be capable of offering better education and better in- 
struction to the people than the greater number of them would sponta- 
neously select. 

*' Education, therefore, is one of those things which it is admissible in 
principle that a government should provide for the people. The case is 
one to which the reasons of the non-interference principle do not neces- 
sarily or universally extend. 

" With regard to elementary education, the exception to ordinary niles 
may, I conceive, justifiably be carried still further. There are certain 
primary elements and means of knowledge which it is in the highest de- 
gree desirable that all human beings bom into the community should 


acquire during childhood. If their parents, or those on whom they de- 
pend, have the power of obtaining for them this instruction, and fail to 
do it, they commit a double breach of duty, — toward the children them- 
selves, and toward the members of the community generally, who are all 
liable to suffer seriously from the consequences of ignorance and want of 
education in their fellow-citizens. It is, therefore, an allowable exercise 
of the powers of a government to impose on parents the legal obligation 
of giving elementary instruction to children. This, however, cannot 
fairly be done without taking measures to insure that such instruction 
shall be always accessible to them, either gratuitously or at a trifling 
expense." * 

This is the testimony of economic science. I trust the states- 
men of this Congress will not think the subject of education too 
humble a theme for their most serious consideration. It has en- 
gaged the earnest attention of the best men of ancient and mod- 
ern times, especially of modern statesmen and philanthropists. 

I shall fortify the positions that I have taken by quoting the 
authority of a few men who are justly regarded as teachers 
of the human race. If I keep in their company, I cannot wan- 
der far from the truth. I cannot greatly err while I am guided 
by their counsel. 

In his eloquent essay entitled "The Ready and Easy Way 
to Establish a Free Commonwealth," John Milton said: **To 
make the people fittest to choose, and the chosen fittest to gov- 
ern, will be to mend our corrupt and faulty education, to teach 
the people faith, not without virtue, temperance, modesty, so- 
briety, economy, justice; not to admire wealth or honor; to 
hate turbulence and ambition ; to place every one his private 
welfare and happiness in the public peace, liberty and safety." ^ 

England's most venerable living statesman. Lord Brougham, 
enforced the same truth in these noble words : — 

** Lawgivers of England ! I charge ye have a care ! Be well assured 
that the contempt lavished for centuries upon the cabals of Constantino- 
ple, where the council disputed on a text while the enemy, the derider of 
all their texts, was thundering at the gate, will be as a token of respect 
compared with the loud shout of universal scorn which all mankind in 
all ages will send up against you if you stand still and suffer a far dead- 
lier foe than the Turcoman, — suffer the parent of all evil, all falsehood, 
all hypocrisy, all discharity, all self-seeking, — him who covers over with 

^ Political Economy, Book V. Chap. XI. Sec. 8 (Boston, 1848). 

2 Prose Works of John Milton, Vol. II. p. 183 (Philadelphia, 1851). 


pretexts of conscience the pitfalls that he digs for the souls on which he 
preys, — to stalk about the fold, and lay waste its inmates, — stand still 
and make no head against him, upon the vain pretext, to soothe your in- 
dolence, that your action is obstructed by religious cabals, — upon the 
far more guilty speculation that by playing a party game, you can turn 
the hatred of conflicting professors to your selfish purposes 1 " ^ 

" Let the soldier be abroad if he will ; he can do nothing in this age. 
There is another personage abroad, a person less imposing, — in the eye 
of some, insignificant. The schoolmaster is abroad ; and I trust to him, 
armed with his primer, against the soldier in full uniform array." ^ 

Lord Brougham gloried in the title of schoolmaster, and con- 
trasted his work with that of the military conqueror in these 
words : — 

" The conqueror stalks onward with ' the pride, pomp, and circum- 
stance of war,' banners flying, shouts rending the air, guns thundering, 
and martial music pealing, to drown the shrieks of the wounded and the 
lamentations for the slain. Not thus the schoolmaster in his peaceful 
vocation. He meditates and prepares in secret the plans which are to 
bless mankind ; he slowly gathers around him those who are to further 
their execution ; he quietly though firmly advances in his humble path, 
laboring steadily but calmly, till he has opened to the light all the recesses 
of ignorance, and torn up by the roots the weeds of vice. His is a 
progress not to be compared with anything like a march ; but it leads to 
a far more brilliant triumph, and to laurels more imperishable than the 
destroyer of his species, the scourge of the world, ever won." 3 

The learned and brilliant Guizot, who regarded his work in 
the office of Minister of Public Instruction, in the government 
of France, the noblest and most valuable work of his life, has 
left us this valuable testimony : " Universal education is hence- 
forth one of the guaranties of liberty and social stability. As 
every principle of our government is founded on justice and 
reason, to diffuse education among the people, to develop their 
understandings and enlighten their minds, is to strengthen their 
constitutional government, and secure its stability." 

In his Farewell Address, Washington wrote these words of 
wise counsel : ** Promote then, as an object of primary impor- 
tance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In 
proportion as the structure of a government gives force to 

1 I-«tter on " National Education," to the Duke of Bedford, Sept. 6, 1839. 

2 Speech in the House of Commons, January 29, 1828. 
' Address at Liverpool Mechanics' Institute, July, 1835. 


public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be en- 

The elder Adams said : ** The wisdom and generosity of the 
legislature, in making liberal appropriations in money for the 
benefit of schools, academies, and colleges, is an equal honor 
to them and to their constituents, a proof of their venera- 
tion for letters and science, and a portent of great and lasting 
good to North and South America and to the world. Great is 
truth, — great is liberty, — great is humanity, — and they must 
and will prevail." 

Chancellor Kent used this decided language: "The parent 
who sends his son into the world uneducated, and without skill 
in any art or science, does a great injury to mankind as well as 
to his own family, for he defrauds the community of a useful 
citizen, and bequeaths to it a nuisance." ^ 

I shall conclude the citation of opinions with these stirring 
words of Edward Everett : — 

" I know not to what else we can better liken the strong appetence 
of the mind for improvement, than to a hunger and tliirst after knowledge 
and truth ; nor how we can better describe the province of education, 
than to say it does that for the intellect which is done for the body, when 
it receives the care and nourishment which are necessary for its growth 
and strength. From this comparison, I think I derive new views of the 
importance of education. It is now a solemn duty, a tender, sacred 
trust. What, sir ! feed a child's body, and let his soul hunger ! pamper 
his limbs, and starve his faculties ! Plant the earth, cover a thousand 
hills with your droves of cattle, pursue the fish to their hiding-places in 
the sea, and spread out your wheat-fields across the plains, in order to 
supply the wants of that body which will soon be as cold and senseless 
as their poorest clod, and let the pure spiritual essence within you, with 
all its glorious capacities for improvement, languish and pine ! What ! 
build factories, tum in rivers upon the water-wheels, unchain the impris- 
oned spirits of steam, to weave a garment for the body, and let the soul 
remain unadorned and naked ! What ! send out your vessels to the 
farthest ocean, and make battle with the monsters of the deep, in order 
to obtain the means of lighting up your dwellings and workshops, and 
prolonging the hours of labor for the meat that perisheth, and permit 
that vital spark which God has kindled, which he has intrusted to our 
care, to be fanned into a bright and heavenly flame, — permit it, I say, 
to kmguish and go out ! " ^ 

* Commentaries, etc., Lecture XXIX. 

2 Orations and Speeches on various Occasions, Vol. II. pp. 277, 278 (Boston, 


It is remarkable that so many good things have been said, 
and so few things done, by our national statesmen, in favor of 
education. If we inquire what has been done by the govern- 
ments of other countries to support and advance public edu- 
cation, we are compelled to confess with shame that ever>' 
government in Christendom has given a ♦more intelligent and 
effective support to schools than has our own. 

The free cities of Germany organized the earliest school 
systems after the separation of Church and State. The present 
schools of Hamburg have existed more than one thousand 
years. The earliest school codes were framed in the duchy 
of Wiirtemberg in 1565, and in the electorate of Saxony in 
1580. Under these codes were established systems of schools 
more perfect, it is claimed, than the school system of any State 
of the American Union. Their systems embraced the gym- 
nasium and the university, and were designed, as their laws 
expressed it, " to carry youth from the elements to the degree 
of culture demanded for offices in Church and State." 

The educational institutions of Prussia are too well known to 
need a comment. It is a sufficient index of their progress and 
high character, that a late Prussian school officer said of his 
official duties: '* I promised God that I would look upon every 
Prussian peasant child as a being who could complain of me 
before God if I did not provide for him the best education as 
a man and a Christian which it was possible for me to provide." 

France did not think herself dishonored by learning from a 
nation which she had lately conquered; and when, in 1831, she 
began to provide more fully for the education of her people, 
she sent the philosopher Cousin to Holland and Prussia to 
study and report upon the schools of those states. Guizot was 
made Minister of Public Instruction, and held the office from 
1832 to 1837. In 1833 the report of Cousin was published, and 
the educational system of France was established on the Prus- 
sian model. No portion of his brilliant career reflects more 
honor upon Guizot than his five years' work for the schools of 
France. The fruits of his labors were not lost in the revolu- 
tions that followed. The present Emperor is giving his best 
efforts to the perfection and maintenance of schools, and is 
endeavoring to make the profession of the teacher more hon- 
orable and desirable than it has been hitherto. 

Through the courtesy of the Secretary of State I have ob- 
tained a copy of the last annual report of the Minister of Public 


Instruction in France, which exhibits the present state of edu- 
cation in that empire. At the last enumeration there were in 
France, in the colleges and lyceums, 65,832 pupils; in the 
secondary schools, 200,000; and in the primary, or common 
schools, 4,720,234. Besides the large amount raised by local 
taxation, the imperial government appropriated, during the 
year 1865, 2,349.051 francs for the support of primary schools. 
Teaching is one of the regular professions in France ; and the 
government offers prizes, and bestows honors upon the success- 
ful instructor of children. During the year 1865, 1,154 prizes 
were distributed to teachers in primary schools. An order of 
honor, and a medal worth two hundred and fifty francs, are 
awarded to the best teacher in each commune. After long and 
faithful service in his profession, the teacher is retired on half- 
pay, and, if broken down in health, is pensioned for life. In 
1865 there were 4,245 teachers on the pension list of France. 
The Minister says in his report, "The statesmen of France have 
determined to show that the country knows how to honor those 
who serve her, even in obscurity.** Since 1862, 10,243 libraries 
for the use of common schools have been established ; and they 
now contain 1,117,352 volumes, more than a third of which 
have been furnished by the imperial government. Half a mil- 
lion text-books are furnished for the use of children who are too 
poor to buy them. It is the policy of France to afford the 
means of education to every child in the empire. 

When we compare the conduct of other governments with 
our own, we cannot accuse ourselves so much of illiberality as 
of reckless folly in the application of our liberality to the 
support of schools. No government has expended so much to 
so little purpose. To fourteen States alone we have given for 
the support of schools 83,000 square miles of land, or an 
amount of territory nearly equal to two such States as Ohio. 
But how has this bountiful appropriation been applied? This 
chapter in our history has never been written. No member of 
this House or the Senate, no executive officer of the govern- 
ment, now knows, and no man ever did know, what disposition 
has been made of this immense bounty. This bill requires 
the Commissioner of Education to report to Congress what 
lands have been given to schools, and how the proceeds have 
been applied. If we arc not willing to follow the example of 
our fathers in giving, let us, at least, have the evidence of the 
beneficial results of their liberality. 


Mr. Speaker, I have thus hurriedly and imperfectly ex- 
hibited the magnitude of the interests involved in the education 
of American youth; the peculiar condition of affairs which 
demands at this time an increase of our educational forces ; the 
failure of a majority of the States to establish school systems, 
the long struggles through which others have passed in achiev- 
ing success; and the humiliating contrast between the action 
of our government and those of other nations in reference to 
education : but I cannot close without referring to the bearing 
of this measure upon the peculiar work of this Congress. 

When the history of the Thirty-ninth Congress is written, it 
will be recorded that two great ideas inspired it, and made their 
impress upon all its efforts; namely, to build up free States 
on the ruins of slavery, and to extend to every inhabitant of 
the United States the rights and privileges of citizenship. Be- 
fore the Divine Architect builded order out of chaos, he said, 
" Let there be light." Shall we commit the fatal mistake of 
building up free States, without first expelling the darkness in 
which slavery had shrouded their people? Shall we enlarge 
the boundaries of citizenship, and make no provision to in- 
crease the intelligence of the citizen? I share most fully in 
the aspirations of this Congress, and give my most cordial 
support to its policy; but I believe its work will prove a 
disastrous failure unless it makes the schoolmaster its ally, 
and aids him in preparing the children of the United States to 
perfect the work now begun. 

The stork is a sacred bird in Holland, and is protected by 
her laws, because it destroys those animals which would under- 
mine the dikes, and let the sea again overwhelm the rich fields 
of the Netherlands. Shall this government do nothing to fos- 
ter and strengthen those educational agencies which alone can 
shield the coming generations from ignorance and vice, and 
make it the impregnable bulwark of liberty and law? 

I know that this is not a measure which is likely to attract 
the attention of those whose chief work it is to watch the politi- 
cal movements that affect the results of nominating conven- 
tions and elections. The mere politician will see in it nothing 
valuable, for the millions of children to be benefited by it can 
give him no votes. But I appeal to those who care more for 
the future safety and glory of this nation than for any mere 
temporary advantage, to aid in giving to education the public 
recognition and active support of the Federal government. 






March 6, i866i 

The efforts made by the government to suppress the Southern Rebel- 
lion early encountered serious opposition in some of the loyal, and even 
in Northern States. The nature and the extent of this opposition fills 
lai^e space in the history of the time. Sometimes it went as far as the 
charges made against the petitioners in the cases argued by Mr. Garfield 
in this speech; but in a far greater number of instances the opposi- 
tion fen short of the crimes therein charged. Unpatriotic and dis- 
loyal practices became so numerous, were carried to such an extent, so 
weakened the government, and so disturbed the public peace, that the 
national authorities felt compelled to deal with their perpetrators. In 
that day of excitement, stress, and violence, the authorities sometimes^ 
proceeded to extremities. Commonly these extremer measures were taken 
by the military commanders in the several military districts. The slow- 
going processes of the civil courts, it was held, were insufficient to 
punish, and so to prevent treason. Hence martial law sometimes took 
the place of civil law, and military commissions the place of civil courts. 
The MilUgan, Bowles, and Horsey cases originated in an attempt to sup- 
press alleged treason. Their history, to the time when they appeared in 
the Supreme Court at Washington, is given by Mr. Garfield in the first 
paragraphs of his speech, and the facts need not be here recited. The 
question of the guilt or innocence of the petitioners, Milligan, Bowles, 
and Horsey, was not in issue before the court, but solely the question 
of the legality of their trial and condemnation by a military commission. 
More specifically it was this : Shall a writ of habeas corpus issue, taking 
the prisoners out of the custody of the military authorities? The peti- 
tion of the prisoners was granted. This is the order of the court, as an- 
nounced by Chief Justice Chase ; the decision was given the next term. 

" I. That on the facts, as stated in said petition and exhibits, a writ of 
habeas corpus ought to be issued, according to the prayer of said 


" II. That on the facts stated in the said petition and exhibits, the 
said Lambdin P. Milligan ought to be discharged from custody as in said 
petition is prayed, and according to the act of Congress, passed 3d 
March, 1863, entitled, ' An Act relating to Habeas Corpus ^ and regulating 
Judicial Proceedings in certain Cases.' 

"III. That, on the facts stated in said petition and exhibits, the mili- 
tary commission mentioned therein had no jurisdiction legally to try and 
sentence said Lambdin P. Milligan in the manner and form as in said 
petition and exhibits are stated. 

" And it is therefore now here ordered and adjudged by this court, that 
it be so certified to the said Circuit Court.*' 

This was Mr. Garfield's first appearance in the Supreme Court of the 
United States. He was associated with Hon. J. E. McDonald, Hon. 
J. S. Black, and Hon. D. D. Field. The United States was represented 
by Hon. James Speed, Attorney- General, Hon. B. F. Buder, and Hon. 
Henry Stanberry. 

Mr. Garfield's appearance in these cases subjected him to severe crit- 
icism in Ohio, and especially in his own district. His appearance was 
held, by those thus criticising, inconsistent with his political and public 
character. The criticism was sharpened by the popular feeling that the 
prisoners were guilty of the crimes charged. Replying at Warren, Ohio, 
September 19, 1874, to certain attacks upon his public character, Mr. 
Garfield thus referred to his connection with these cases : — 

"Just about that time there had been in Congress a very considerable 
discussion concerning the arbitrary conduct of some of our officers in 
carrying, in civil communities, the military jurisdiction and rule further 
than they were warranted by the Constitution, and I had taken strong 
grounds in Congress against the exercise of military power in States not 
in rebellion. It being generally known that I had resisted what some of 
the more extreme of our own party thought the military authorities might 
safely do, I was asked if I would be willing to argue the case of Bowles 
and Milligan before the Supreme Court. I answered, * If the case turns 
on the justice of those men being punished, I will not defend them in 
any way whatever, for I believe they deserve the severest punishment ; 
but if it turns on the question as to who has the power to try those 
men, I will. I believe that there is no authority under the Constitu- 
tion and laws of the United States to take a citizen of Indiana not a 
soldier and import a military tribunal to his home to try him and pun- 
ish him.' So important did I regard this principle to the future of this 
country in that exciting time, that, with my eyes open to the fact that I 
took a ver)' great political risk in defending, not Bowles and Milligan, but 
the right of every citizen in a civil community where war is not raging to 
be tried by the courts of the country and before juries of his own land, 
and not to be dragged away outside of his owti doors to be tried by a 


military organization brought from a distance, I made the argument now 
complained of- I believed that, having put down the Rebellion, having 
saved civil liberty in this country against cruel invasion, we ought also to 
save it from our own recklessness. 

" I happen to have with me a copy of the argument that I made before 
the Supreme Court in the year 1866; and I desire to say that I felt, 
when I made that argument, that I was doing as worthy a thing as 
I had ever done, and I look back upon it to-night with as much sin- 
cere pride and satisfaction as upon any act of my public life. I 
ought to add, that I have never even seen Bowles or Milligan. I knew 
that they were poor, and probably could not pay for their defence. I 
was never promised and never received any compensation for it. I paid 
the expense of printing my own brief and argument. I never received 
any compensation for it; I did it in defence of what I believe to 
be a most vital and important principle, not only to the Republican 
party, but to the nation ; namely, that in no part of our civil commu- 
nity must the military be exalted above the civil authority, and that 
those men, however unworthy, however guilty, and however disloyal to 
their country, should not be tried by any but a lawful, civil tribunal. 
Congress had provided laws for trying every crime that those men were 
charged with, and for trying it by a civil court. Now, I believe that all 
over this land one of the great landmarks of civilization and civil liberty 
is the self-restraining power of the American people, curbing themselves 
and governing themselves by the limit of the civil law. I remind you of 
the fact that the Supreme Court unanimously sustained the position I 
took in that argument. There were some differences as to the reasoning 
by which the court reached the result ; but the ruling of the court was 
unanimous, that the trial had been unauthorized by law, and that the men 
must therefore be released. That did not release them, however, from 
the right of the government to try them in the civil courts for the crimes 
with which they were charged. A note that was handed to me at the 
door called upon me to explain how it was that I, a Republican and a 
Representative, gave my voice and whatever ability I possessed as a 
lawyer to save Rebel conspirators from punishment. My answer was, 
* Hang them if guilty, but hang them according to law ; if you hang 
them otherwise, you commit murder.' " 

** Nullus liber homo capiatur, vcl imprisonctur, aut dissaisiatur, aut utlagetur, aut exulctur, 
aut aliquo modo dcstruatur, nee super eum ibimus, nee super eum mittemus, nisi per legale 
judicium parium suorum, vel per legem terra;." — Magna Carta^ Cap. XXXIX. 

MAY IT PLEASE THE CoURT, — In the months of Septem- 
ber and October, 1864, Lambdin P. Milligan, William 

A. Bowles, and Stephen Horsey, natives of the United States 
VOL I. 10 


and citizens of the State of Indiana, were arrested by order of 
Alvin P. Hovey, Major-General commanding the military dis- 
trict of Indiana, and on the 2ist of the latter month were 
placed on trial before a military commission convened at Indi- 
anapolis, by order of General Hovey, on the following charges, 
preferred by Major Henry L. Burnett, Judge Advocate of the 
Northwestern Military Department, viz. : — 

1. "Conspiracy against the government of the United States." 

2. " Affording aid and comfort to rebels against the govern- 
ment of the United States." 

3. " Inciting insurrection." 

4. ** Disloyal practices." 

5. "Violations of the laws of war." 

The Commission, overruling the objection of the accused 
against its authority to try them, proceeded with the trial, pro- 
nounced them guilty, and sentenced them to death by hanging. 
The sentence was approved on the 2d of May, 1865 ; but before 
the day fixed for its execution, the President of the United 
States commuted it to imprisonment for life, and the prisoners 
are now confined in the penitentiary of Ohio. 

On the loth of the same month, they filed their petition in 
the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of In- 
diana, setting forth the above facts, and also declaring, that, 
while the petitioners were held in military custody, and more 
than twenty days after their arrest, a grand jury of the Circuit 
Court of the United States for the District of Indiana was con- 
vened at Indianapolis, the petitioners' place of confinement, and, 
being duly impanelled, charged, and sworn for said district, 
held its sittings, and finally adjourned, without having found 
any bill of indictment, or made any presentment whatever 
against them; that at no time had they been in the military 
service of the United States, or in any way connected with the 
land or naval force, or the militia in actual service; that they 
had not been within the limits of any State whose citizens were 
engaged in rebellion against the United States, at any time 
during the war, but during all the time aforesaid, and for twenty 
years last past, had been inhabitants, residents, and citizens of 
Indiana. The petitioners* claim to be discharged from mili- 
tary custody was founded upon the provisions of an act of Con- 
gress of March 3, 1863, entitled "An Act relative to Habeas 
Corpus, and regulating Judicial Proceedings in certain Cases." 


On hearing the petition, the opinions of the judges of the Cir- 
cuit Court were opposed, and they have certified to this court 
for its decisioii the following questions, viz. : — 

1. On the facts stated in the petition and exhibits, ought a 
writ of habeas corpus to be issued, according to the prayer of 
said petitioners? 

2. On the facts stated in the petition and exhibits, ought the 
petitioners to be discharged from custody, as in said petition 
prayed ? 

3. Whether, upon the facts stated in said petition and exhib- 
its, the military Commission mentioned therein had jurisdiction 
legally to try and sentence said petitioners in manner and form 
as in said petition and exhibits is stated. 

These preliminary proceedings have been so fully stated and 
examined by the gentleman who opened the cause,^ that I need 
not dwell upon them further. 

I desire to say, in the outset, that the questions now before 
this court have relation only to constitutional law, and involve 
neither the guilt or the innocence of the relators, nor the mo- 
tives and patriotism of the officers who tried and sentenced 
them. I trust I need not say in this presence, that in my esti- 
mation nothing in the calendar of infamy can be more abhor- 
rent than the crimes with which the relators were charged; 
nothing that more fully deserves the swift vengeance of the 
law, and the execration of mankind. But the questions before 
your Honors are not personal. They reach those deep foun- 
dations of law on which the republic is built; and in their 
proper settlement are involved the highest interests of every 

Had the military Commission jurisdiction legally to try and 
sentence the petitioners? Upon the determination of this ques- 
tion the whole cause rests. If the Commission had such juris- 
diction, the petitioners are legally imprisoned, and should not 
be discharged from custody ; nor should a writ of habeas corpus 
be issued in answer to their prayer. If the military Commis- 
sion had not jurisdiction, the trial was void, the sentence illegal, 
•and should not be further executed. 

As a first step toward reaching an answer to this question, 
I affirm that every citizen of the United States is under the 
dominion of law ; that, whether he be a civilian, a soldier, or a 

1 Hon. J. E. McDonald. 


sailor, the Constitution provides for him a tribunal before which 
he may be protected if innocent, and punished if guilty of 
crime. In the fifth article of the Amendments td the Constitu- 
tion it is declared that — 

" No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infa- 
mous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, 
except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia when 
in actual service in time of war or public danger ; nor shall any person 
be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or 
limb; nor shall be compelled, in any criminal case, to be a witness 
against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due 
process of law ; nor shall private property be taken for public use with- 
out just compensation." 

This sweeping provision covers every person under the juris- 
diction of the Constitution. To the general rule of presentment 
or indictment of a grand jury, there are three exceptions: 
first, cases arising in the land forces ; second, cases arising in 
the naval forces ; third, cases arising in the militia when in 
actual service in time of war or public danger. All these 
classes are covered by express provisions of the Constitution. 
In whatever one of these situations an American citizen may 
be placed, his rights are clearly defined, and a remedy is 
provided against oppression and injustice. The Constitution 
establishes the Supreme Court, and empowers Congress to con- 
stitute tribunals inferior to that court; **to make rules for the 
government and regulation of the land and naval forces," and 
to provide for governing such part of the militia as may be 
employed in the service of the United States. No other tri- 
bunal is authorized or recognized by the Constitution. No 
other is established by the laws of Congress. For all cases 
not arising in the land or naval forces. Congress has amply 
provided in the Judiciary Act of September 24, 1789, and the 
acts amendatory thereof. For all cases arising in the naval 
forces, it has fully provided in the act of March 2, 1799, **for 
the Government of the Navy of the United States," and in sim- 
ilar subsequent acts. 

But since the opposing counsel do not claim to find authority 
for the tribunal before which the petitioners were tried in cither 
of these categories, I shall proceed to examine, somewhat mi- 
nutely, the limits and boundaries of the military department ; 
the character of its tribunals ; the classes of persons who come 


within its jurisdiction; and the defences which the law has 
thrown around them. 

We are apt to regard the military department of the govern- 
ment as an organized despotism, in which all personal rights 
are merged in the will of the commander-in-chief. But that 
department has definitely marked boundaries, and all its mem- 
bers are not only controlled, but also sacredly protected, by 
definitely prescribed law. The first law of the Revolutionary 
Congfress touching the organization of the army, passed Sep- 
tember 20, 1776, provided that no officer or soldier should be 
kept in arrest more than eight days without being furnished 
with the written charges and specifications against him ; that he 
should be tried, at as early a day as possible, by a regular mili- 
tary court, whose proceedings were regulated by law, and that no 
sentence should be carried into execution until the full record of 
the trial had been submitted to Congress or to the commander- 
in-chief, and his or their direction be signified thereon. From 
year to year Congress has added new safeguards to protect the 
rights of our soldiers, and the Rules and Articles of War are as 
really a part of the laws of the land as the Judiciary Act or the 
act establishing the Treasury Department. If the humblest pri- 
vate soldier in the army be wronged by his commanding officer, 
he may demand redress by sending the statement of his griev- 
ance step by step through the appointed channels, till it reaches 
the President or Congress, if justice be not done him sooner. 

The main boundary line between the civil and military juris- 
dictions is the muster into service. Before that act the citi- 
zen is subject to the jurisdiction of the civil courts ; after it, 
until his muster out, he is subject to the military jurisdiction in 
all matters of military duty. This line has been carefully sur- 
veyed by the courts, and fixed as the lawful boundary. They 
do not regard a citizen as coming under the jurisdiction of a 
Federal court-martial, even when he has been ordered into the 
military service by the Governor of his State, on requisition of 
the President, until he reaches the place of general rendezvous, 
and has been actually mustered into the service of the United 
States. On this point I cite the case of Mills v, Martin.^ In 
that case, a militiaman, called out by the Governor of the State 
of New York, and ordered by him to enter the service of the 
United States, on a requisition of the President for troops, re- 

1 19 Johnson's N. Y. Reports, 6. 


fused to obey the summons, and was tried by a Federal court- 
martial for disobedience of orders. The Supreme Court of the 
State of New York decided that, until he had gone to the place 
of general rendezvous, and had been regularly enrolled, and 
mustered into the national militia, he was not amenable to the 
action of a court-martial composed of officers of the United 
States. The judge, in giving his opinion, quoted the following 
language of Mr. Justice Washington, of the Supreme Court of 
the United States, in the case of Houston v, Moore : ** From 
this brief summary of the laws, it would seem that actual service 
was considered by Congress as the criterion of national militia ; 
and that the service did not commence until the arrival of the 
militia at the place of rendezvous. That is the termimis a quo 
the service, the pay, and subjection to the articles of war, are 
to commence and continue.*' ^ 

By the sixtieth Article of War, the military jurisdiction is so 
extended as to cover those persons not mustered into the ser- 
vice, but necessarily connected with the army. It provides that 
" All sutlers and retainers to the camp, and all persons whatso- 
ever serving with the armies of the United States in the field, 
though not enlisted soldiers, are to be subject to orders, accord- 
ing to the Rules and Articles of War." ^ 

That the question of jurisdiction might not be doubtful, it 
was thought necessary to provide by law of Congress that spies 
should be subject to trial by court-martial. As the law stood 
for eighty-five years, spies were described as ** persons not citi- 
zens of, or owning allegiance to, the United States, who shall be 
found lurking," etc. Not until after the great Rebellion began 
was this law so amended as to allow the punishment by court- 
martial of citizens of the United States who should be found 
lurking about the lines of our army to betray it to the enemy ; 
for until then, be it said to the honor of our people, it had 
never been thought possible that any American citizen would 
become a spy, to aid the enemies of the Republic ; but in 1 862 
the law was so amended that such a citizen, if found lurking 
about the lines of the army as a spy, in time of war, should be 
tried by a court-martial as though he were a spy of a foreign 

It is evident, therefore, that by no loose and general construc- 
tion of the law can citizens be held amenable to military tribu- 

1 5 Wheat on, 20. " Army Regulations, 1 861. 


nals, whose jurisdiction extends only to persons mustered into 
the military service, and such other classes of persons as are, 
by express provisions of law, made subject to the rules and arti- 
cles of war. 

But even within their proper jurisdiction military courts are, 
in many important particulars, subordinate to the civil courts. 
This is acknowledged by the leading authorities on this subject. 
I read from O'Brien's Military Law. After discussing the gen- 
eral relations between the civil and military departments of the 
government, he says : — 

" From this admitted principle, it would seem a necessary consequence 
that the Supreme Court of the United States has an inherent power over 
all military tribunals, of precisely the same nature as that which it asserts 
and exercises over inferior courts of civil judicature. Any mandatory 
or prohibitory writ, therefore, emanating from the Supreme Court of the 
United States, and addressed to a court-martial, would demand the most 
unhesitating obedience on the part of the latter. Whether, in the ab- 
sence of a special law to that effect, the same obedience is due to a writ 
coming from a Circuit or District Court of the Union, and directed to 
a court-martial assembled in the district or circuit, does not appear to be 
so clear. A military tribunal would doubtless obey such a writ. As to 
State courts, the case is very different. Military courts are entirely inde- 
pendent of them. Their powers are derived from a distinct, separate, and 
independent source. In regard to the courts of the United States, there 

can be no question Each individual member of a court-martial 

is also liable to the supreme courts of civil judicature, not only for any 
abuse of power, but for any illegal proceedings of the court, if he has 

voted for or participated in the same 

" The authority of courts- martial is sometimes extended by executive 
governments, subjecting, by proclamation, certain districts or countries 
to the jurisdiction of martial law during the existence of a rebellion. 
But in all such cases a court-martial ought to be fully assured that the 
warrant or order under which they are assembled is strictly legal ; and that 
the prisoners brought before them were actually apprehended in the par- 
ticular district or country which may have been subjected to martial law, 
and during the period that the proclamation was actually in force. Any 
error in these particulars would render their whole proceedings illegal." * 

In further vindication of my last proposition, I shall cite a 
few precedents from English and American history. 

I. A Lieutenant Fr>'e. serving in the West Indies in 1743 on 
board the Oxford, a British man-of-war, was ordered by his 

* Pages 222-226 (Philadelphia, 1846). 



superior officer to assist in arresting another officer and bringing 
him on board the ship as a prisoner. The Lieutenant, doubting 
the legality of the order, demanded — what he had, according to 
the customs of the naval service, a right to demand — a written 
order before he would obey the command. For this he was 
put under arrest, tried by a naval court-martial, sentenced to 
fifteen years' imprisonment, and forever debarred from serving 
the King. He was sent to England to be imprisoned, but was 
released by order of the Privy Council. In 1746 he brought 
an action before a civil court against the president of the court- 
martial, Sir Chaloner Ogle, and damages of ;^i,ooo were awarded 
him for his illegal detention and sentence ; and the learned judge 
informed him that he might also bring his action against any 
member of the court-martial. Rear- Admiral Mayne and Captain 
Rentone, who were members of the court that tried him, were, 
at the time when damages were awarded to Lieutenant Frye, sit- 
ting on a naval court-martial for the trial of Vice- Admiral Les- 
tock. The Lieutenant proceeded against them, and they were 
arrested upon a writ from the Court of Common Pleas. The 
order of arrest was served upon them just as the court-martial 
adjourned, one afternoon. Its members, fifteen in number, im- 
mediately reassembled and passed resolutions declaring it a great 
insult to the dignity of the naval service that any person, how- 
ever high in civil authority, should order the arrest of a naval 
officer for any of his official acts. The Lord Chief Justice, Sir 
John Willes, immediately ordered the arrest of all the members 
of the court who signed the resolutions, and they were arrested. 
They appealed to the King, who was very indignant at the ar- 
rest. The judge, however, persevered in his determination to 
maintain the supremacy of the civil law, and after two months' 
examination and investigation of the cause all the members of 
the court-martial signed an humble and submissive letter of 
apology, begging leave to withdraw their resolutions, in order 
to put an end to further proceedings. When the Lord Chief 
Justice had heard the letter read in open court, he directed that it 
be recorded in the Remembrance Office, ** as a memorial to the 
present and future ages, that whoever set themselves up in op- 
position to the laws, or think themselves above the law, will in 
the end find themselves mistaken." ^ 

1 See Mc Arthur on Courts-Martial, (London, 1806,) Vol. 1. pp. 229-232. See 
also Ix)ndon Gazette for 1745-46, Library of Congress. 


2. I beg leave to cite the case of Wilson v, MacKenzie. This 
court will remember the remarkable mutiny, in 1842, on board 
the brig Somers, in which a son of the then Secretary of the 
Treasury of the United States was tried by court-martial for 
mutiny, and executed at the yard-arm. It was proved that a 
mutiny of very threatening aspect had broken out, and that the 
lives of the captain and his officers were threatened by the 
mutineers. Among the persons arrested was the plaintiff, Wil- 
son, an enlisted sailor, who, being supposed to be in the con- 
spiracy, was knocked down by the captain, ironed, and held in 
confinement for a number of days. When the cruise was ended, 
Wilson brought suit against the captain for illegal arrest and 
imprisonment. The cause was tried before the Supreme Court 
of New York, and his Honor, Chief Justice Nelson, delivered 
the opinion of the court. He says : — 

" The material question presented in this case is, whether the com- 
mon law courts have any jurisdiction of personal wrongs committed by a 
superior officer of the navy upon a subordinate, while at sea, and engaged 
in the public service Actions of trespass for injuries to the per- 
son have been frequently brought and sustained in the common law 
courts of England, against naval as well as military commanders, by their 
subordinates, for acts done both at home and abroad, under pretence 
and color of naval and military discipline. (See Wall v, McNamara, and 
Swinton v. Molloy, stated in i T. R. 536, 537 ; also, Mostyn v. Fabrigas, 
Cowp. 161 ; Warden v. Bailey, 4 Taunt. 67 ; 4 Maule & Selw. 400, S. C.) 
.... There are are also many cases in the books where actions have 
been sustained against members of courts-martial, naval and military, who 
have exceeded their authority in the infliction of punishment. (See 
4 Taunt. 70-75, and the cases there cited.) .... It was suggested on 
the argument, by the counsel for the defendant, that, inasmuch as he 
[\Vilson] was in the service of the United States when the acts com- 
plained of were done, the courts of this State, as matter of comity and 

policy, should decline to take jurisdiction I am of opinion that 

the demurrer [to the suggestion] is well taken, and that the plaintiff 
[Wilson] is entitled to judgment. Ordered accordingly." ^ 

3. As a clear and exhaustive statement of the relation be- 
tween civil and military courts, I quote from an opinion of this 
court in the case of Dynes v. Hoover^: — 

" With the sentences of courts- martial which have been convened 
regularly, and have proceeded legally, and by which punishments are 
directed, not forbidden by law, or which are according to the laws and 

1 7 HiU's N. Y. Supreme Court Reports, 97-100. ^ 20 Howard, 82, Sj. 


customs of the sea, civil courts have nothing to do, nor are they in any 
way alterable by them. If it were otherwise, the civil courts would vir- 
tually administer the Rules and Articles of War, irrespective of those to 
whom that duty and obligation has been confided by the laws of the 
United States, from whose decisions no appeal or jurisdiction of any kind 
has been given to the civil magistrate or civil courts. But we repeat, if 
a court-martial has no jurisdiction over the subject-matter of the charge it 
has been convened to try, or shall inflict a punishment forbidden by the 
laWy though its sentence shall be approved by the officers having a re- 
visory power of it, civil courts may, on an action by a party aggrieved by 
it, inquire into the want of the court's jurisdiction, and give him redress. 
(Harman v, Tappenden, i East, 555 ; as to ministerial officers, Mar- 
shall's Case, 10 Cr. 76 ; Moravia v, Sloper, Willes, 30 ; Parton v, Wil- 
liams, 3 B. & A. 330 ; and as to justices of the peace, by Lord Tenterden, 
in Basten v, Carew, 3 B. & C. 653 ; Mills v, Collett, 6 Bing. 85.) 

" Such is the law of England. By the Mutiny Acts, courts-martial 
have been created with authority to try those who are a part of the army 
or navy for breaches of military or naval duty. It has been repeatedly 
determined that the sentences of those courts are conclusive in any action 
brought in the courts of common law. But the courts of common law 
will examine whether courts-martial have exceeded the jurisdiction given 
them, though it is said, ' not, however, after the sentence has been rati- 
fied and carried into execution.' (Grant ?'. Gould, 2 H. Black. 69 ; 
Ship Bounty, i East, 313 ; Shalford's case, i East, 313 ; Mann v, Owen, 
9 B. & C. 595 ; In the Matter of Poe, 5 B. & A. 681, on a motion for a 

I hold it therefore established, that the Supreme Court of 
the United States may inquire into the question of jurisdiction 
of a military court; may take cognizance of extraordinary pun- 
ishment inflicted by such a court not warranted by law, and 
may issue writs of prohibition, or give such other redress as 
the case may require. It is also clear that the Constitution and 
laws of the United States have carefully provided for the pro- 
tection of individual liberty, and the right of accused persons 
to a speedy trial before a tribunal established and regulated 
by law. 

The petitioners must, as I have already shown, be placed in 
one of four categories. First, they were either in the naval 
service ; or, second, in the military service ; or, third, belonged 
to the militia, and were called out to serve by order of the Pres- 
ident in the national militia; or, fourth, if neither of these three, 
nor so connected with them as to be placed by law under the 


naval or military jurisdiction, then they were simply civilians, 
and subject exclusively to the jurisdiction of the civil courts. 
It is set forth in the petition, and not denied by the opposing 
counsel, that they were in neither of the first three classes, nor 
connected with them. They must, therefore, belong to the 
fourth class, — unless a fifth should be added, as the learned 
counsel on the other side have suggested, and it be held that 
they were prisoners of war ; but of that I shall speak hereafter. 
Under such circumstances, it is not surprising that the learned 
counsel should go beyond the Constitution, beyond the civil, the 
naval, and even the military law, to find a basis on which they 
may rest the jurisdiction of the tribunal before which the peti- 
tioners were tried. They tell us frankly that they do not find its 
justification either in the civil or military laws of the land. 

The Honorable Attorney-General and his distinguished col- 
league* declare in their printed brief, that, — 

I. " A military commission derives its powers and authority 
wholly from martial law ; and by that law and by military au- 
thority only are its proceedings to be judged or reviewed." 

II. " Martial law is the will of the commanding officer of an 
armed force, or of a geographical military department, ex- 
pressed in time of war, within the limits of his military jurisdic- 
tion, as necessity demands and prudence dictates, restrained or 
enlarged by the orders of his military chief or supreme ex- 
ecutive ruler,'* and " the officer executing martial law is at the 
same time supreme legislator, supreme judge, and supreme 

To give any color of plausibility to these novel propositions, 
they were compelled not only to ignore the Constitution, but to 
declare it suspended, its voice drowned in the thunders of war. 
Accordingly, with consistent boldness, they declare that the 
third, fourth, and fifth articles of Amendments '* are all peace 
provisions of the Constitution, and, like all other conventional 
and legislative laws and enactments, are silent inter armUy when 
salus populi suprana est lex" Applying these doctrines to this 
cause, they hold that from the 5 th of October, 1864, to the 
9th of May, 1865, martial law alone existed in Indiana; that it 
silenced not only the civil courts, but all the laws of the land, 
and even the Constitution itself; and during that silence the 
executor of martial law could lay his hand upon every citizen, 

» Hon. R F. Duller. 


could not only suspend the writ of habeas corpus^ but could 
create a court which should have the exclusive jurisdiction over 
the citizen to try him, sentence him, and put him to death. 

We have already seen that the Congress of the United States 
raises and supports armies, provides and maintains navies, and 
makes the rules and regulations for the government of both ; 
but it would appear from the teachings of the learned counsel 
on the other side, that when Congress has done all these things, 
— when, in the name of the republic, and in order to put down 
rebellion and restore the supremacy of law, it has created the 
grandest army that ever fought, — the power thus created rises 
aboye its source and destroys both the law and its creator. They 
would have us believe that the government of the United States 
has evoked a spirit which it cannot lay, — has calkd into being 
a power which at once destroyed and superseded its author, 
and rode, in uncontrolled triumph, over citizen and court. Con- 
gress and Constitution. All this mockery is uttered before this 
august court, whose every member is sworn to administer the 
law in accordance with the Constitution. This monstrous as- 
sumption I shall now proceed to examine. 

And now what is martial law? It is a new term to American 
jurisprudence ; and I congratulate this court that never before 
in the long history of this republic has that word rung out its 
lawless echoes in this sacred chamber. 

Mr. Butler. Did not the decision in the case of Luther v, Borden 
have something to do with martial law ? 

It was not the subject decided by the court, and only remote- 
ly analogous to this case. The claim to exercise martial law in 
that case was under the old charter of Charles II. in Rhode 
Island, and not under the Constitution. 

I. Sir Matthew Hale, in his History of the Common Law, 
says : — 

" Touching the business of martial law, these things are to be ob- 
served, viz. : — 

" First. That in truth and reality it is not a law, but something in- 
dulged rather than allowed as a law. The necessity of government, 
order, and discipline in an army is that only which can give those 
laws a countenance ; — quod enim necessitas cogit defendi, 

" Secondly. This indulged law was only to extend to members of the 
army, or to those of the opposite army, and never was so much indulged 
as intended to be executed or exercised upon others. For others who 


were not listed under the army had no color or reason to be bound by 
military constitutions applicable only to the army, whereof they were not 
parts. But they were to be ordered and governed according to the laws 
to which they were subject, though it were a time of war. 

" Thirdly. That the exercise of martial law, whereby any person should 
lose his life, or member, or liberty, may not be permitted in time of peace, 
when the King's courts are open for all persons to receive justice accord- 
ing to the laws of the land. This is in substance declared in the Petition 
of Right, 3 Car. i, whereby such commissions and martial law were re- 
pealed and declared to be contrary to law." ^ 

2. Blackstone quotes the above approvingly, and still further 
enforces the same doctrine.^ 

3. Wharton, in his Law Lexicon, says: "Martial law is that 
rule of action which is imposed by the military power. It has 
no place in the institutions of this country [Great Britain], un- 
less the articles of war established under the military acts be 
considered as of that character. The prerogative of proclaim- 
ing martial law within this kingdom is destroyed, as it would 
appear, by the Petition of Right." ^ 

4. Lord Wellington defined martial law as " the will of the 
commanding general exercised over a conquered or occupied 
territory." This definition was given by him in his despatches 
from the Peninsula, and was subsequently repeated in Parlia- 
ment, in 1 85 1. In the same debate, Lords Cottenham and 
Campbell, and the Attorney-General, Sir J. Jcrvis, declared that 
" martial law was the setting aside of all law, and acting under 
military power, in circumstances of great emergency, — a pro- 
ceeding w'hich requires to be followed up by an act of in- 

This is the kind of law to which the gentlemen appeal to 
establish the validity of the court that tried the petitioners. 

In order to trace the history and exhibit the character of mar- 
tial law, I shall refer to several leading precedents in English 

I. The Earl of Lancaster. In the year 1322, the Earl of Lan- 
caster and the Earl of Hereford rebelled against the authority 
of Edward II. They collected an army so large that Edward 
was compelled to raise thirty thousand men to withstand them. 
The rebellious Earls posted their forces on the Trent, and the 

1 London edition of 1794, Vol. I. pp. 54, 55. 2 Book I. pp. 413, 414. 

8 Third edition, p. 578. 


armies of the King confronted them. They fought at Borough- 
bridge; the insurgent forces were overthrown; Hereford was 
slain, and Lancaster, taken in arms at the head of his army, was, 
amid the noise of battle, tried by a court-martial, sentenced 
to death, and executed. When Edward III. came into power, 
five years later, on a formal petition presented to Parliament 
by Lancaster's son, setting forth the facts, the case was ex- 
amined and a law was enacted reversing the attainder, and 
declaring: " i. That in time of peace no man ought to be ad- 
judged to death for treason, or any other offence, without being 
arraigned and put to answer. 2. That regularly, when the Kifigs 
courts are open, it is a time of peace in judgment of law. 3. That 
no man ought to be sentenced to death, by the record of the 
King, without his legal XxitX per pares T ^ 

I call attention to this case as being similar in some of the 
points to the cause before us. This man was taken in arms at 
the head of his army, and in battle. He was immediately tried 
by court-martial and executed ; but it was declared, in the de- 
cree that reversed the attainder, that he might have been tried 
by the courts of the land, and therefore, for the purposes of his 
trial, it was a time of peace ; that he might have been presented, 
indicted, and regularly tried before the civil tribunal, and there- 
fore the whole proceeding was illegal. So carefully was the line 
drawn between civil and martial law five hundred years ago. 

2. Sir Thomas Darnell. He was arrested and imprisoned in 
1625, by order of the King, for refusing to pay a tax which he 
regarded as illegal. A writ of habeas corpus was prayed for, but 
answer was returned by the court that he had been arrested by 
special order of the King, and that was held to be a sufficient 
answer to the petition. Then the great cause came up to be 
tried in Parliament, whether the order of the King was suffi- 
cient to override the writ of habeas coffus, and after a long 
and stormy debate, in which the ablest minds in England were 
engaged, the Petition of Right, of 1628, received the sanction of 
the King. In that statute it was decreed that the King should 
never again suspend the writ of habeas corpus ; that he should 
never again try a subject by military commission; and since 
that day, no king of England has presumed to usurp that high 
prerogative which belongs to Parliament alone. 

1 The History of the Picas of the Crown, by Sir Matthew Hale, (Dublin, 1778,) 
Vol. I. p. 347 ; Humc*s History of England, (Boston, 1854,) Vol. II. p. 159. 


3. For the purpose of citing a passage in the argument of 
Counsellor Prynn, I call attention to the trial of Lord Macguire. 
before the Court of King's Bench, in 1645.^ Lord Macguire 
was the leader of the great Irish rebellion of 1641, during the 
progress of which more than one hundred thousand men, wo- 
men, and children were murdered, under circumstances of the 
greatest brutality. He was arrested and held until order had 
been restored; and in 1645 was brought before the King's 
Bench for trial. Mr. Prynn, counsel for the Crown, published 
his argument in the case, in order, as he says, to vindicate the 
laws of England — 

" In trying this notorious offender, guilty of the horridest, universalest 
treason and rebellion that ever brake forth in Ireland ; and that in a time 
of open war both in Ireland and England, only by a legal indictment, 
and indifferent sworn jury of honest and lawful freeholders, according to 
the known laws and statutes of the realm ; not in a court-martial, or any 
other new-minted judicature, by an arbitrary, summary, illegal, or martial 
proceeding, without any lawful presentment, indictment, or trial by a 
sworn, impartial, able jury, resolved to be diametrically contrary to the 
fundamental laws, customs, great charters, statutes of the realm, and in- 
herent liberty of the subject, especially in time of peace when all other 
courts of justice are open, and of very dangerous consequence, and 
thereupon especially prohibited, and enacted against." 

After giving a long list of references to authorities, he goes 
on to say that the law is vindicated still more — 

" In allowing him a free, honorable trial upon an indictment first 
found upon oath by the grand jury, and then suffering him to take not 
only his particular challenges by the poll to every of the jurors returned, 
upon a voyre dire (not formerly heard of, yet allowed him, as reasonable, 
to take away all color of partiality or non-indifference in the jurors), 
whereupon every juryman was examined before he was sworn of the jury, 
whether he had contributed or advanced any moneys upon the proposi- 
tions for Ireland, or was to have any share in the rebels' lands in Ireland, 
by act of Parliament, or otherwise. But likewise in permitting him to 
take his peremptory challenge to thirty-five of the two juries returned, 
without any particular cause alleged; which liberty — our laws allowing 
men, in favorem vitcc, and because there may be private causes of just 
exceptions to them known to the prisoner, not fit to be revealed, or for 
which he wants present proof, and that in cases of high treason, as well 
as of felony — the court thought just and equal to allow the same to 
him, though a notorious Irish rebel." * 

' 4 State Trials, (London, 1809,) pj). 653 et seq. - Ibid., pp. 691-693. 


4. The Bill of Rights of 1688. The house of Stuart had 
been expelled, and William had succeeded to the British throne. 
Great disturbances had arisen in the realm in consequence of 
the change of dynasty. Plots were formed in favor of James in 
all parts of England. The King's person was unsafe in Lon- 
don. He informed the Lords and Commons of the great dan- 
gers that threatened the kingdom, and reminded them that he 
had no right to declare martial law, to suspend the writ of habeas 
corpus^ or to seize and imprison his subjects on suspicion of 
treason or intended outbreak against the peace of the realm. 
He laid the case before them, and asked their advice and assist- 
ance. In answer Parliament passed the celebrated Habeas Cor- 
pus Act. Since that day, no king of England has dared to 
suspend the writ. It is only done by Parliament. 

5. Governor Wall. In the year 1782, Joseph Wall, Governor 
of the British colony at Goree, in Africa, had under his com- 
mand about five hundred British soldiers. Suspecting that a 
mutiny was about to break out in the garrison, he assembled 
them on the parade-ground, held a hasty consultation with his 
officers, and immediately ordered Benjamin Armstrong, a pri- 
vate and supposed ringleader, to be seized, stripped, tied to 
the wheel of an artillery carriage, and to receive eight hundred 
lashes with a rope one inch in diameter. The order was carried 
into execution, and Armstrong died of his injuries. Twenty 
years afterward Governor Wall was brought before the most 
august civil tribunal of England to answer for the murder of 
Armstrong. Sir Archibald McDonald, Lord Chief Baron of 
the Court pf Exchequer, Sir Souldcn Lawrence, of the King's 
Bench, and Sir Giles Rooke, of the Common Pleas, constituted 
the court. Wall's counsel claimed that he had the power of life 
and death in his hands in time of mutiny; that the necessity of 
the case warranted him in suspending the usual forms of law ; 
that as governor and military commander-in-chief of the forces 
at Goree, he was the sole judge of the necessities of the case. 
After a patient hearing before that high court, he was found 
guilty of murder, was sentenced, and executed.^ 

I now ask your attention to analogous precedents in our own 

I. On the I2th of June, 1775, General Gage, the commander 
of the British forces, declared martial law in Boston. The 

1 28 State Trials, p. 5^ ; see also Hough's Military Law, pp. 537-540. 


battles of Concord and Lexington had been fought two months 
before. The Colonial army was besieging the city and its Brit- 
ish garrison. It was but five days before the battle of Bunker 
Hill. Parliament had, in the previous February, declared the 
Colonies in a state of rebellion. Yet, by the common consent 
of English jurists. General Gage violated the laws of England, 
and laid himself liable to its penalty, when he declared martial 
law. This position is sustained, in the opinion of Mr. Justice 
Woodbury, in Luther v, Borden et al} 

2, On the 7th of November, 1775, Lord Dunmore declared 
martial law throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. This 
was long after the battle of Bunker Hill, and when war was 
flaming throughout the Colonies; yet he was denounced by 
the Virginia Assembly for having assumed a power which the 
King himself dared not exercise, as it ** annuls the law of the 
land, and introduces the most execrable of all systems, martial 
law." Mr. Justice Woodbury declares^ the act of Lord Dun- 
more unwarranted by British law. 

3. The practice of our Revolutionary fathers on this subject 
is most instructive. Their conduct throughout the great strug- 
gle for independence was equally marked by respect for civil 
law and jealousy of martial law. Indeed, it was one of the 
leading grievances set forth in the Declaration of Independence, 
that the King of Great Britain had ** affected to render the mil- 
itary independent of, and superior to, the civil power " ; and 
though Washington was clothed with almost dictatorial powers, 
he did not presume to override the civil law, or disregard the 
orders of the courts, except by express authority of Congress 
or the States. In his file of general orders, covering a period 
of five years, there are but four instances in which civilians 
appear to have been tried by a military court, and all these 
trials were expressly authorized by resolutions of Congress. 

In the autumn of 1777. the gloomiest period of the war, a 
powerful hostile army landed on the shore of Chesapeake Bay, 
for the purpose of invading Maryland and Pennsylvania. It 
was feared that the disloyal inhabitants along his line of march 
would give such aid and information to the British commander 
as to imperil the safety of our cause. Congress resolved " that 

* 7 Howard, 48. For a history of the transaction, see Annual Register for 

1775. P- '33- 

* 7 Howard, 65. 

VOL. I. If 


the executive authorities of Pennsylvania and Maryland be re- 
quested to cause all persons within their respective States, no- 
toriously disaffected, to be forthwith apprehended, disarmed, 
and secured till such time as the respective States think they 
can be released without injury to the common cause," The 
Governor of Pennsylvania authorized the arrests, and many dis- 
loyal citizens were taken into custody by Washington's officers, 
who refused to answer the writ of liabcas corpus which a civil 
court issued for the release of the prisoners. Very soon after- 
wards the Pennsylvania legislature passed a law indemnifying 
the Governor and the military authorities, and allowing a simi- 
lar course to be pursued thereafter, on recommendation of Con- 
gress or the commanding officer of the army. But this law gave 
authority only to arrest and hold, — not to try ; and the act was 
to remain in force only till the end of the next session of the 
General Assembly. So careful were our fathers to recognize 
the supremacy of civil law, and to resist all pretensions of mar- 
tial law to authority. 

4. I pass next to notice an event that occurred under the 
Confederation, before the Constitution was adopted. I refer to 
Shays's Rebellion, in 1787, — that rebellion which was men- 
tioned by Hamilton in the Federalist as a proof that we needed 
a strong central government to preserve our liberties. During 
all that disturbance there was no declaration of martial law, and 
the habeas corpus was only suspended for a limited time and 
with very careful restrictions. Governor Bowdoin's order to 
General Lincoln, on the 19th of January, 1787, was in these 
words : ** Consider yourself in all your military offensive opera- 
tions constantly as under the direction of the civil officer, save 
where any armed force shall appear to oppose your marching to 
execute these orders." 

5. I refer next to a case under the Constitution, the rebellion 
of 1793 in Western Pennsylvania. President Washington did 
not march with his troops until the judge of the United States 
District Court had certified that the Marshal was unable to exe- 
cute his warrants. Though the parties were tried for treason, 
all the arrests were made by the authority of the civil officers. 
The orders of the Secretary of War stated that ** the object of 
the expedition was to assist the Marshal of the District to make 
prisoners." Every movement was made under the direction of 
the civil authorities. So anxious was Washington on this sub- 


ject, that he gave his orders with the greatest care, and went in 
person to see that they were carefully executed. He issued 
orders declaring that ** the army should not consider themselves 
as judges or executioners of the laws, but only as employed to 
support the proper authorities in the execution of the laws.'* 

6. I next refer to an incident connected with the Burr con- 
spiracy, in 1807. The first developments of this plot were 
exceedingly alarming. Reports were forwarded to President 
Jefferson, and by him communicated confidentially to the Sen- 
ate of the United States, with his recommendation that Congress 
pass a law authorizing the suspension, for a limited period, of 
the writ of habeas corf us. On the 26th of January, the Senate, 
by a unanimous vote, passed a bill authorizing the suspension 
of the writ for three months, in cases of persons who were 
charged under oath with treason or misprision of treason. Thus 
carefully limited and restricted, the bill was sent, under the seal 
of secrecy, to the House of Representatives. When it was read, 
the doors were immediately opened; a motion was made to 
reject the bill, that it might not even reach its first reading; 
and, after a very able debate of five days, it was rejected by a 
vote of one hundred and thirteen to nineteen. 

Not content, even, with that decided expression of sentiment, 
two weeks later, on the 17th of February, a resolution was intro- 
duced into the House ordering the Committee on the Judiciary 
"to bring in a bill more thoroughly to protect the rights of 
American citizens from arrest and imprisonment under color of 
authority of the President of the United States." After a very 
searching and able debate, it was concluded that existing laws 
afforded ample protection ; but so anxious were the representa- 
tives of the people to place the safety of the citizen beyond the 
reach of doubt, that the resolution came within t\vo votes of 
passing in the House. The vote stood 58 yeas to 60 nays; and 
that, too, in the very midst of the threatened conspiracy.^ 

I will remark in this connection, that, though President Jef- 
ferson recommended the passage of the act referred to, yet 
in his correspondence he had previously expressed the opinion 
that it was unwise, even in insurrection, to suspend the writ 
of habeas corpus? 

* The full history of this legislative action will be found in Benton's Abridgment 
of Congressional Debates, Vol. III. pp. 504-542. 
a Works, Vol. II. pp. 329, 355. 


So jealous were our people of any infringement of the rights 
of the citizen to the privileges of the writ, that in the very 
midst of the dangers at New Orleans General Wilkinson was 
brought before a court there for having neglected promptly to 
obey a writ of habeas corpus. 

7. I call the attention of the court for a moment to the dis- 
cussion in Congress in relation to the action of General Jack- 
son, in 1 8 14, at New Orleans. It will be remembered that, 
notwithstanding flagrant war was blazing around New Orleans 
when the General declared martial law, yet it was held that he 
had violated the sanctity of the courts, and he was fined ac- 
cordingly.^ In 1842 a bill was introduced into Congress to 
reimburse him for the fine. The debate was very able and 
thorough. James Buchanan, then a member of Congress, spoke 
in its favor, and no one will doubt his willingness to put the 
conduct of Jackson on the most favorable ground possible. I 
quote from his speech : — 

" It had never been contended on this floor that a military commander 
possessed the power, under the Constitution of the United States, to 
declare martial law. No such principle had ever been asserted on this 
(the Democratic) side of the House. He had then expressly declared 
(and the published report of the debate, which he had recently exam- 
ined, would justify him in this assertion) that we did not contend, 
strictly speaking, that General Jackson had any constitutional right to 
declare martial law at New Orleans ; but that, as this exercise of power 
was the only means of saving the city from capture by the enemy, he 
stood amply justified before his country for the act. We placed the 
argument not upon the ground of strict constitutional right, but of such 
an overruling necessity as left General Jackson no alternative between 
the establishment of martial law and the sacrifice of New Orleans to the 
rapine and lust of the British soldiery. On this ground Mr. B. had 
planted himself firmly at the last session of Congress ; and here he in- 
tended to remain." ^ 

All the leading members took the same ground. It was not 
attempted to justify, but only to palliate and excuse the con- 
duct of Jackson. 

8. I call attention next to the opinions of our courts in re- 
gard to martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas 
corpus, and first read from the opinion of Chief Justice Mar- 

1 For a full record of the law in the case, see 3 Martin's Lou. Rep., O. S., 530. 
• Benton*s Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, Vol. XIV. p. 628. 


shall in Ex parte Bollman : " If at any time the public safety 
should require the suspension of the powers vested .... in the 
courts of the United States, it is for the legislature to say so. 
That question depends on political considerations, on which the 
legislature is to decide. Until the legislative will be expressed, 
the court can only see its duty, and must obey the laws." ^ 

I also cite the opinion of the late Chief Justice m Ex parte 
Menyman,^ in which it was decided that the legislative au- 
thority alone could suspend the writ of habeas corpus. This 
decision was rendered in 1862, in the Maryland Circuit. 

I shall conclude these citations from our own judicial history 
by reading a few paragraphs from the opinion of Mr. Justice 
Woodbury in Luther v, Borden et al? The passage loses none 
of its force from the fact that it is part of a dissenting opinion ; 
for the principles involved in it were not strictly in issue, nor 
were they denied by the court. After stating his positions at 
length, the learned justice says : — 

" For convincing reasons like these, in every country which makes 
•any claim to political or civil liberty, * martial law,' as here attempted, 
and as once practised in England against her own people, has been 
expressly forbidden there for near two centuries, as well as by the prin- 
ciples of every other free constitutional govemment. (i HaJlam's 
Const. Hist. 420.) And it would be not a little extraordinary if the 
spirit of our institutions, both State and national, was not much stronger 
than in England against the unlimited exercise of martial law over a 
whole people, whether attempted by any chief magistrate or even by a 

" My impression is that a state of war, whether foreign or domestic, 
may exist, in the great perils of which it is competent, under its rights 
and on principles of national law, for a commanding officer of troops 
under the controlling govemment to extend certain rights of war, not 
only over his camp, but its environs and the near field of his military 
operations. (6 American Archives, 186.) But no further nor wider. 
(Johnson v. Davis ct al., 3 Martin, 530, 551.) On this rested the justi- 
fication of one of the great commanders of this country and of the age, 
in a transaction so well known at New Orleans. But in civil strife they 
are not to extend beyond the place where insurrection exists. (3 Mar- 
tin, 551.) Nor to portions of the State remote from the scene of military 
operations, nor after the resistance is over, nor to persons not con- 
nected with it (Grant z\ Gould et al.y 2 H. Black. 69.) Nor even 
within the scene can they extend to the person or property of citizens 

' 4 Cranch, loi. ^ ^ American I^w Register, 524. ^ 7 Howard, i. 


against whom no probable cause exists which may justify it (Sutton v, 
Johnston, i D. & E. 549.)" ^ 

I cannot leave this branch of my argument without fortify- 
ing my position by the authority of two of the greatest names 
on the roll of British jurists. To enable me to do this, I call 
attention to the celebrated trial of the Rev. John Smith, mis- 
sionary at Demerara in British Guiana. In the year 1823 a 
rebellion broke out in Demerara, extending over isome fifty 
plantations. The governor of the district immediately declared 
martial law. A number of the insurgents were killed, and the 
rebellion was crushed. It was alleged that the Rev. John Smith, 
a missionary sent out by the London Missionary Society, had 
been an aider and abettor of the rebellion. A court-martial was 
appointed, and, in order to give it the semblance of civil law, 
the Governor-General appointed the chief justice of the district 
as a staff officer, and then detailed him as president of the court 
to try the accused. All the other members of the court were 
military men, and he was made a military officer for the special 
occasion. Missionary Smith was tried, found guilty, and sen- 
tenced to be hung. The proceedings came to the notice of 
Parliament, and were made the subject of inquiry and debate. 
Smith died in prison before the day of execution, but the trial 
gave rise to one of the ablest debates of the century, in which 
the principles involved in the cause now before this court were 
fully discussed. Lord Brougham and Sir James Mackintosh 
were among the speakers. In the course of his speech. Lord 
Brougham said : — 

" No such thing as martial law is recognized in Great Britain, and 

courts founded on proclamations of martial law are wholly unknown 

Suppose I were ready to admit that, on the pressure of a great emer- 
gency, such as invasion or rebellion, when there is no time for the slow 
and cumbrous proceedings of the civil law, a proclamation may justifi- 
ably be issued for excluding the ordinary tribunals, and directing that 
offences should be tried by a military court, — such a proceeding might 
be justified by necessity ; but it could rest on that alone. Created by 
necessity, necessity must limit its continuance. It would be the worst of 
all conceivable grievances, — it would be a calamity unspeakable, — if 
the whole law and constitution of England were suspended one hour 

longer than the most imperious necessity demanded I know that 

the proclamation of martial law renders every man liable to be treated 

^ 7 Howard, 62, 83, 84. 


as a soldier. But the instant the necessity ceases, that instant the state 
of soldiership ought to cease, and the rights, with the relations, of civil 
life to be restored:' ^ 

The speech of Sir James Mackintosh, who was perhaps the 
very first English jurist of his day, is in itself a magazine of le- 
gal learning, and treats so fully and exhaustively the subject of 
martial law and military tribunals that I shall take the liberty of 
quoting several passages. I do this with less hesitation because 
I have found no argument so full and complete, and no author- 
ity more perfectly applicable to the cause before this court. 

" On the legality of the trial, sir, the impregnable speech of my learned 
friend * has left me little if anything to say. The only principle on which 
the law of England tolerates what is called ' martial law * is necessity ; 
its introduction can be justified only by necessity ; its continuance re- 
quires precisely the same justification of necessity ; and if it survives the 
necessity, in which alone it rests, for a single minute, it becomes instantly 
a mere exercise of lawless violence. When foreign invasion or civil war 
renders it impossible for courts of law to sit, or to enforce the execution 
of their judgments, it becomes necessary to find some rude substitute 
for them, and to employ for that purpose the military, which is the only 
remaining force in the community." 

I desire to call particular attention to the sentences which lay 
down the chief condition that can justify martial law, and also 
mark the boundary between martial and civil law. 

" While the laws are silenced by the noise of arms, the rulers of the 
armed force must punish, as equitably as they can, those crimes which 
threaten their own safety and that of society, but no longer ; — every 
moment beyond is usurpation. As soon as the laws can act, every other 
mode of punishing supposed crimes is itself an enormous crime. If 
argument be not enough on this subject, — if, indeed, the mere state- 
ment be not the evidence of its own truth, — I appeal to the highest 
and most venerable authority known to our law." 

He proceeds to quote Sir Matthew Hale on martial law, and 
cites the case of the Earl of Lancaster, to which I have already 
referred, and then declares : — 

" No other doctrine has ever been maintained in this country since 
the solemn Parliamentary condemnation of the usurpations of Charles I., 
which he was himself compelled to sanction in the Petition of Right. 
In none of the revolutions or rebellions which have since occurred has 

* Speeches of Henry, Lord Brougham, (Edinburgh, 1838,) Vol. 11. pp. 70, 71. 

* Lord Brougham. 


martial law been exercised, however much, in some of them, the neces- 
sity might seem to exist. Even in those most deplorable of all commo- 
tions which tore Ireland in pieces in the last years of the eighteenth 
century, — in the midst of ferocious revolt and cruel ^punishment, — at 
the very moment of legalizing these martial jurisdictions in 1799, ^^ 
very Irish statute which was passed for that purpose did homage to the 
ancient and fundamental principles of the law in the very act of depart- 
ing from them. The Irish statute, 39 George III., chap. 3, after reciting 
* that martial law had been successfully exercised to the restoration of 
peace, so far as to permit the course of the common law partially to 
take place, but that the rebellion continued to rage in considerable parts 
of the kingdom, whereby it has become necessary for Parliament to in- 
terpose,' goes on to enable the Lord Lieutenant * to punish rebels by 
courts-martial.* This statute is the most positive declaration that, where 
the common law can be exercised in some parts of the country ^ martial law 
cannot be established in others^ though rebellion actually prevails in those 
others^ without an extraordinary interposition of the supreme legislative 
authority itself . . . 

" I have already quoted from Sir Matthew Hale his position respect- 
ing the twofold operation of martial law ; — as it affects the army of the 
power which exercises it, and as it acts against the army of the enemy. 
That great judge, happily unused to standing aniiies, and reasonably 
prejudiced against military jurisdiction, does not pursue his distinction 
through all its consequences, and assigns a ground for the whole which 
will support only one of its parts. * The necessity of order and discipline 
in an army ' is, according to him, the reason why the law tolerates this 
departure from its most valuable rules ; but this necessity only justifies 
the exercise of martial law over the army of our own state. One part of 
it has since been annually taken out of the common law and provided 
for by the Mutiny Act, which subjects the military offences of soldiers 
only to punishment by military courts even in time of peace. Hence we 
may now be said annually to legalize military law ; which, however, dif- 
fers essentially from martial law, in being confined to offences against 
military discipline, and in not extending to any persons but those who 
are members of the army. Martial law exercised against enemies or 
rebels cannot depend on the same principle, for it is certainly not in- 
tended to enforce or preserve discipline among them. It seems to me 
to be only a more regular and convenient mode of exercising the right to 
kill in war, — a right originating in self-defence, and limited to those 
cases where such killing is necessary as the means of insuring that end. 
Martial law put in force against rebels can only be excused as a mode of 
more deliberately and equitably selecting the persons from whom quarter 
ought to be withheld in a case where all have forfeited their claim to it. 
It is nothing more than a sort of better regulated decimation, founded 


upon choice, instead of chance, in order to provide for the safety of the 
conquerors, without the horrors of undistinguished slaughter ; it is justi- 
fiable only where it is an act of mercy. Thus the matter stands by the 
law of nations. But by the law of England it cannot be exercised except 
where the jurisdiction of courts of justice is interrupted by violence. 
Did this necessity exist at Demerara, on the 13th of October, 1823? 
Was it on that day impossible for the courts of law to try offences ? It 
is clear that, if the case be tried by the law of England," and unless an 
affirmative answer can be given to these questions of fact, the court- 
martial had no legal power to try Mr. Smith." 

After presenting arguments to show that a declaration of mar- 
tial law was not necessary, the learned jurist continues : — 

" For six weeks, then, before the court-martial was assembled, and for 
twelve weeks before that court pronounced sentence of death on Mr. 
Smith, all hostility liad ceased, no necessity for their existence can be 
pretended, and every act which they did was an open and deliberate 
defiance of the law of England. 

Where, then, are we to look for any color of law in these proceedings ? 
Do they derive it from the Dutch law ? I have diligentiy examined the 
Roman law, which is the foundation of that system, and the writings of 
those most eminent jurists who have contributed so much to the reputa- 
tion of Holland. I can find in them no trace of any such principle as 
martial law. Military law, indeed, is clearly defined ; and provision is 
made for the punishment by military judges of the purely military offen- 
ces of soldiers. But to any power of extending military jurisdiction over 
those who are not soldiers, there is not an allusion. I will not furnish a 
subject for the pleasantries of my right honorable friend, or tempt him 
into a repetition of his former innumerable blunders, by naming the 
greatest of these jurists ^ \ lest his date, his occupation, and his rank might 
be again mistaken, and the venerable President of the Supreme Court 
of Holland might be once more called a * clerk of the States General.' 
* Persecutio militis,' says that learned person, * pertinet ad judicem mili- 
tarem quando delictum sit militare, et ad judicem communem quando 
delictum sit commune.' Far from supposing it to be possible that those 
who were not soldiers could ever be triable by military courts for crimes 
not military, he expressly declares the law and practice of the United 
Provinces to be, that even soldiers are amenable, for ordinary offences 
against society, to the court of Holland and Friesland, of which he was 
long the chief. The law of Holland, therefore, does not justify this trial 
by martial law. 

''Nothing remains but some law of the colony itself. Where is it? 

* Bynkershoek, of whose professional rank Mr. Canning had professed igno- 


It is not alleged or alluded to in any part of this trial. We have heard 
nothing of it this evening. So unwilling was I to believe that this court- 
martial would dare to act without some pretence of legal authority, that I 
suspected an authority for martial law would be dug out of some dark cor- 
ner of a Guiana ordinance. I knew it was neither in the law of England 
nor in that of Holland ; and I now believe that it does not exist even in 
the law of Demerara. The silence of those who are interested in pro- 
ducing it is not my only reason for this belief. I happen to have seen 
the instructions of the States General to their Governor of Demerara, in 
November, 1792, probably the last ever issued to such an officer by that 
illustrious and memorable assembly. They speak at large of councils of 
war, both for consultation and for judicature. They authorize these 
councils to try the military offences of soldiers ; and therefore, by an in- 
ference which is stronger than silence, authorize us to conclude that the 
Governor had no power to subject those who were not soldiers to their 

" The result, then, is, that the law of Holland does not allow what is 
called * martial law * in any case ; and that the law of England does not 
allow it without a necessity, which did not exist in the case of Mr. Smith. 
If, then, martial law is not to be justified by the law of England, or by 
the law of Holland, or by the law of Demerara, what is there to hinder 
me from affirming, that the members of this pretended court had no more 
right to try Mr. Smith than any other fifteen men on the face of the earth ; 
that their acts were nullities, and their meeting a conspiracy ; that their 
sentence was a direction to commit a crime ; that if it had been obeyed, it 
would not have been an execution, but a murder ; and that they, and all 
other parties engaged in it, must have answered for it with their lives ? " * 

May it please the court, many more such precedents as I 
have already cited might be added to the list, but it is unneces- 
sary. They all teach the same lesson. They enable us to trace 
from its far-off source the progress and development of An- 
glo-Saxon liberty; its innumerable conflicts with irresponsible 
power; its victories, dearly bought, but always won, — victories 
which have crowned with immortal honors the institutions- of 
England, and left their indelible impress upon the Anglo-Saxon 
mind. These principles our fathers brought with them to the 
New World, and guarded with sleepless vigilance and religious 
devotion. In its darkest hour of trial, during the late Rebellion, 
the republic did not forget them. So completely have they 
been impressed on the minds of American lawyers, so thor- 

1 Miscellaneous Works of the Rt. Hon. Sir James Mackintosh, (London, 1S51,) 
pp. 734 et seq. 


oughly have they been ingrained into the very fibre of Ameri- 
can character, that notwithstanding the citizens of eleven States 
went off into wild rebellion, broke their oaths of allegiance to 
the Constitution, and levied war against their country, yet, with 
all their crimes upon them, there was still in the minds of those 
men, during all the struggle, so deep and enduring an impres- 
sion on this great subject that, even during their rebellion, the 
courts of the Southern States adjudicated causes like the one 
now before you in favor of the civil law and against courts- 
martial established under military authority for the trial of citi- 
zens. In Texas, Mississippi, Virginia, and other insurgent 
States, by the order of the Rebel President, the writ of habeas 
corpus was suspended, martial law was declared, and provost- 
marshals were appointed to exercise military authority. But 
when civilians, arrested by military authority, petitioned for re- 
lease by writ of habeas corpus^ in every case save one the writ 
was granted, and it was decided that there could be no suspen- 
sion of the writ or declaration of martial law by the Executive, 
or by any other than the supreme legislative authority. The 
men who once stood high on the list of American lawyers, such 
as Alexander H. Stephens, Albert Pike, and General Houston, 
wrote letters and made speeches against the practice until it 
was abandoned. In the year 1862, the commander-in-chief of 
the Rebel armies, compelled by the force of public sentiment, 
published a general order disclaiming any right or claim of 
right to establish martial law or suspend the writ of habeas 
corpus without the authority of the Rebel Congress. 

I said there was one exceptional instance. A judge of the 
Supreme Court of Texas, in the first excitement of the Rebel- 
lion, refused to issue a writ of habeas corpus to release from 
military arrest a citizen charged with disloyalty to the Rebel 
government. He wrote his opinion, and delivered it; but he 
was so much agitated when he found that he stood alone among 
judges on that great question of human rights that he went to 
the book of records in which his opinion was recorded, and 
with his own hand plucked the leaves from the volume and 
destroyed them. He also destroyed the original copy, that it 
might never be put in type, and, having destroyed everything 
but the remembrance of it, ended his life by suicide. I be- 
lieve he alone among Rebel judges ventured to recognize mar- 
tial law declared without legislative authority. 


The spirit of liberty and law is well embodied in this one sen- 
tence of De Lolme : " The arbitrary discretion of any man is 
the law of tyrants : it is always unknown, it is different in dif- 
ferent men, it is casual, and depends upon constitution, temper, 
and passion ; in the best it is oftentimes caprice, in the worst 
it is every vice, folly, and passion to which human nature is 
liable."^ And yet, if this military commission could legally 
try these petitioners, its authority rested only upon the will of a 
single man. If it had the right to try these petitioners, it had 
the right to try any civilian in the United States ; it had the 
right to try your Honors, for you are civilians. 

The learned gentlemen tell us that necessity justifies martial 
law. But what is the nature of that necessity. If, at this mo- 
ment, Lee, with his Rebel army at one end of Pennsylvania Ave- 
nue, and Grant, with the army of the Union at the other, with 
hostile banners and roaring guns, were approaching this Capi- 
tol, the sacred seat of justice and law, I have no doubt they 
would expel your Honors from the bench, and the Senate and 
House of Representatives from their halls. The jurisdiction 
of battle would supersede the jurisdiction of law. This court 
would be silenced by the thunders of war. 

If an earthquake should shake the city of Washington, and 
tumble this Capitol in ruins about us, it would drive your Hon- 
ors from the bench, and, for the time, volcanic law would super- 
sede the Constitution. 

If the supreme court of Herculaneum or Pompeii had been 
in session when the fiery ruin overwhelmed those cities, its au- 
thority would have been suddenly usurped and overthrown ; but 
I question the propriety of calling that law which, in its very 
nature, is a destruction or suspension of all law. 

From this review of the history and character of martial law 
I am warranted, by the uniform precedents of English law for 
many centuries, by the uniform practice of our fathers during 
the Colonial and Revolutionary periods, by the unanimous de- 
cisions of our courts under the Constitution, and by the teach- 
ings of our statesmen, to conclude, — 

I . That the Executive has no authority to suspend the writ of 
/labeas corptis, or to declare or administer martial law ; much less 
has any military subordinate of the Executive such authority ; 

1 Rise and Progress of the English Constiturion, (London, 1838,) Vol. I. 


but these high functions belong exclusively to the supreme 
legislative authority of the nation. 

2. That if, in the presence of great and sudden danger, and un- 
der the pressure of overwhelming necessity, the chief Executive 
should, without legislative warrant, suspend the writ of habeas 
corpus, or declare martial law, he must not look to the courts 
for justification, but to the legislature for indemnification. 

3. That no such necessity can be pleaded to justify the trial 
of a civilian by a military tribunal, when the legally authorized 
civil courts are open and unobstructed. 

It will be observed that in this discussion I have not alluded 
to the legal status of citizens of those States which were de- 
clared, both by the legislative and executive departments of the 
government, to be in rebellion against the United States. It has 
been fully settled, not only by the other co-ordinate branches 
of the government, but by this court, that those States consti- 
tuted a belligerent government de facto, against which the Fed- 
eral government might proceed with all the appliances of war, 
and might extend absolute military jurisdiction over every foot 
of rebel territory. But the military jurisdiction thus conferred 
by the government did not extend beyond the territory of the 
rebellious States, except where the tide of war actually swept 
beyond those limits, and by its flaming presence made it im- 
possible for the civil courts to exercise their functions. The 
case before your Honors comes under neither of these condi- 
tions ; hence, the laws of war are inapplicable to it. 

The military commission, under our government, is of recent 
origin. It was instituted by General Scott, in Mexico, to enable 
him, in the absence of any civil authority, to punish Mexican 
and American citizens for offences not provided for in the Rules 
and Articles of War. The purpose and character of a military 
commission may be seen from his celebrated Order No. 20, pub- 
lished at Tampico. It was no tribunal with authority to punish, 
but merely a committee appointed to examine an offender and 
advise the commanding general what punishment to inflict. 
It is a rude substitute for a court of justice in the absence of 
civil law. 

Even our own military authorities, who have given so much 
prominence to these commissions, do not claim for them the 
character of tribunals established by law. The Judge Advocate 
General says: ** Military commissions have grown out of the 


necessities of the service, but their powers have not been de- 
fined, nor their mode of proceeding regulated by any statute 

law In a military department the military commission 

is a substitute for the ordinary State or United States court, 
when the latter is closed by the exigencies of war, or is without the 
jurisdiction of the offence committed." ^ 

The only ground on which the learned counsel attempt to 
establish the authority of the military commission to try these 
petitioners is that of the necessity of the case. I answer, there 
was no such necessity. Neither the Constitution nor Congress 
recognized it. I point to the Constitution as an arsenal stored 
with ample powers to meet every emergency of national life. 
No higher test of its completeness can be imagined than has 
been afforded by the great Rebellion, which dissolved the mu- 
nicipal governments of eleven States, and consolidated them 
into a gigantic traitorous government de facto, inspired with the 
desperate purpose of destroying the government of the United 

From the beginning of the Rebellion to its close, Congress, by 
its legislation, kept pace with the necessities of the nation. In 
sixteen carefully considered laws, the national legislature under- 
took to provide for every contingency, and to arm the Execu- 
tive at every point with the solemn sanction of law. Observe 
how perfectly the case of the petitioners was covered by the 
provisions of law. 

The first charge against them was " conspiracy against the 
government of the United States." In the act approved July 
31, 1 86 1, that very crime was fully defined, and placed within 
the jurisdiction of the District and Circuit Courts of the United 

Charge 2 : " Affording aid and comfort to rebels against the 
government of the United States." In the act approved July 
17, 1862, this crime is set forth in the very words of the charge, 
and it is provided that " such person shall be punished by im- 
prisonment for a period not exceeding ten years ; or by a fine 
not exceeding ten thousand dollars, and by the liberation of all 
his slaves, if any he have; or by both of said punishments, at 
the discretion of the court." 

Charge 3: "Inciting insurrection." In Brightly's Digest ^ 
there is compiled from ten separate acts a chapter of sixty-four 

1 Digest of Opinions for 1866, pp. 131, 133. 2 Vol. II. pp. 191-202. 


sections on insurrection, setting forth, in the fullest manner pos- 
sible, every mode by which citizens may aid in insurrection, and 
providing for their trial and punishment by the regularly or- 
dained courts of the United States. 

Charge 4: " Disloyal practices." The meanjng of this charge 
can only be found in the specifications under it, which consist 
in discouraging enlistments and making preparations to resist a 
draft designed to increase the army of the United States. These 
offences are fully defined in the thirty-third section of the act 
of March 3, 1863, " for Enrolling and Calling out the National 
Forces," and in the twelfth section of the act of February 24, 
1864, amendatory thereof. The provost-marshal is authorized 
to arrest such offenders, but he must deliver them over for trial 
to the civil authorities. Their trial and punishment are ex- 
pressly placed in the jurisdiction of the District and Circuit 
Courts of the United States. 

Charge 5 : ** Violations of the laws of war," — which, according 
to the specifications, consisted of an attempt, through a secret 
organization, to give aid and comfort to rebels. This crime is 
amply provided for in the laws referred to in relation to the 
second charge. But Congress did far more than to provide for 
a case like this. Throughout the eleven rebellious States it 
clothed the military department with supreme power and au- 
thority. State constitutions and laws, the decrees and edicts of 
courts, were all superseded by the laws of war. Even in States 
not in rebellion, but where treason had a foothold, and hostile 
collisions were likely to occur. Congress authorized the suspen- 
sion of the writ of habeas corpus, and directed the army to keep 
the peace. 

But Congress went further still, and authorized the President, 
during the Rebellion, whenever, in his judgment, the public 
safety should require it, to suspend the privilege of the writ of 
Jiahcas corpus in any State or Territory of the United States, and 
order the arrest of any persons whom he might believe danger- 
ous to the safety of the republic, and hold them till the civil 
authorities could examine into the nature of their crimes. But 
this act of March 3, 1863, gave no authority to try the person 
by any military tribunal, and it commanded judges of the Cir- 
cuit and District Courts of the United States, whenever the 
grand jury had adjourned its sessions, and found no indictment 
against such persons, to order their immediate discharge from 


arrest. All these capacious powers were conferred upon the 
military department, but there is no law on the statute-book in 
which the tribunal that tried the petitioners can find the least 

I wish to call the attention of your Honors to a circumstance 
showing the sentiment on this subject of the House of Repre- 
sentatives of the Thirty-eighth Congress. Near the close of that 
Congress, when the Miscellaneous Appropriation Bill, which au- 
thorized the disbursement of several millions of dollars for the 
civil expenditures of the government, was under discussion, the 
House of Representatives, having observed with alarm the grow- 
ing tendency to break down the barriers of law, and desiring to 
protect the rights of citizens as well as to preserve the Union, 
added to the appropriation bill the following section: ^^ And 
be it further enacted, That no person shall be tried by court- 
martial or military commission in any State or Territory where 
the courts of the United States are open, except persons actually 
mustered or commissioned or appointed in the military or naval 
service of the United States, or rebel enemies charged with being 

The Section was debated at length in the Senate, and, although 
almost every Senator acknowledged its justice, yet, as the nation 
was then in the very mid-whirl and fury of the war, it was feared 
that the Executive might thereby be crippled, and the section 
was stricken out. The bill came back to the House ; conferences 
were held upon it, and finally, in the last hour of the session, the 
House deliberately determined that, important as the bill was to 
the interests of the country, they preferred it should not become 
a law if that section were stricken out. I beg leave to read some 
passages from the remarks of one of the noblest, ablest, and 
most patriotic men that have honored this nation during the 
war, — that great man, so lately taken from us, Henry Winter 
Davis, of Maryland. After reporting the provisions of the bill 
agreed upon by the committee of conference, he said : — 

" Under these circumstances it remained for a majority of the House 
committee to determine between the great result of losing an important 
appropriation bill, or, after having raised a question of this magnitude, 
touching so nearly the right of every citizen to his personal liberty and 
the very endurance of republican institutions, and to insure its prompt 
consideration fastened it on an appropriation bill, to allow it to be stricken 
out of the bill as a matter of secondary importance. The committee 


thought that their duty to their constituents, to the House, and to them- 
selves, would not allow them to provide for any pecuniary appropriations 
at the expense of so grave a reflection upon the fundamental principles 
of the government 

" The practice of the government has introduced into the jurispnidencc 
of the United States principles unknown to the laws of the United States, 
loosely described under the general term of the rules and usages of icuir, 
and new crimes, defined by no law, called * military offences * ; and with- 
out the authority of any statute, constitutional or unconstitutional, and 
pointing these laws — confined by the usage of the world to enemies 
in enemies' territory — against our own citizens in our own territory, has 
repeatedly deprived many citizens of the United States of tlieir lil)erty, 
has condemned many to death, who have only been redeemed from 
that extreme penalty by the kindness of the President's heart, and aided 
doubdess by the serious scruples he cannot but feel touching the legality 
of the judgment that assigned them to death. 

" There have been many cases in which judgments of confinement in 
the penitentiary have been inflicted for acts not punishable, either under 
the usages of war or under any statute of the United States, by any mili- 
tary tribunal ; crimes for which the laws of the United States prescribe 
the punishment have been visited with other and severer punishments by 
mUitary tribunals ; violations of contract with the government, real or im- 
puted, have been construed by these tribunals into frauds, and punished 
as crimes ; excessive bail has been demanded, and when furnished im- 
pudently refused ; and the attempt of Congress to discriminate between 
crimes committed by persons in the military forces and citizens not in 
those forces, has been annulled, and the very oficnccs it specifically re- 
quired to be tried before the courts of the United States have been tried 
before military tribunals dependent upon the will of the President 

" The committee remember that such things are inconsistent with tiie 
endurance of republican government. The party which tolerates or 
defends them must destroy itself or the republic. They felt they had 
reached a point at which a vote must be cast which may break up j)oliti- 
cal parties, or, if it do not, will break up or save a great republican 
government. Before these alternatives they could not hesitate. They 
thought it best, now, at this time, to leave this law standing as a broken 
dike in the midst of the rising flood of lawless power around us, to show 
to this generation how high that flood of lawless power has risen in only 
three years of civil war, as a warning to those who arc to come after us, 
as an awakening to those who are now with us. 

"They have, therefore, come to the determination, so far as the con- 
stitudonal pri\ilcges and prerogatives of this House will enable them to 
accomplish the result, that this bill shall not Ixjcome a law if these words 
do not stand as a part of it, — the affirmation by the representatives of 

VOL. I. 13 



the States and of the people of the inalienable birthright of every Ameri- 
can citizen ; and on that question they appeal from the judgment of the 
Senate to the judgment of the American people." ' 

The appeal was taken ; the bill failed ; and the record of its 
failure is an emphatic declaration that the House of Represent- 
atives have never consented to the establishment of any tribu- 
nals except those authorized by the Constitution of the United 
States and the laws of Congress. 

There was one point, suggested rather than insisted upon by 
the opposing counsel, which it requires but little more than 
a statement to answer. In their brief, the learned gentlemen 
say that, if the military tribunal had no jurisdiction, the peti- 
tioners may be held as prisoners captured in war, and handed 
over by the military to the civil authorities, to be tried for 
their crimes under the acts of Congress, and before the courts 
of the United States. The answer to this is, that the peti- 
tioners were never enlisted, commissioned, or mustered in the 
service of the Confederacy ; nor had they been within the Rebel 
lines, or within any theatre of active military operations ; nor 
had they been in any way recognized by the Rebel authori- 
ties as in their service. They could not have been exchanged 
as prisoners of war ; nor, if all the charges against them were 
true, could they be brought under the legal definitioo of spies. 
There appears to be no ground whatever for calling them pris- 
oners of war. The suggestion of our opponents, that the peti- 
tioners should be handed over to the civil authorities for trial, 
is precisely what they petitioned for, and what, according to 
the laws of Congress, should have been done. We do not ask 
that they shall be shielded from any lawful punishment, but 
that they shall not be unlawfully punished, as they now are, by 
the sentence of a tribunal which had no jurisdiction over cither 
their persons or the subject-matter of the charges. 

The only color of authority for such a trial was found in the 
President's proclamation of September 24th, 1862, which was 
substantially annulled by the Habeas Corpus Act of March 3d, 
1863, and the subsequent Presidential proclamation of Septem- 
ber iSth, 1863. By these acts, the military authority could 
only arrest and hold disaffected persons till after a session of 
the United States District Court. 

May it please the court, I have thus reviewed the principles 

* Congressional Globe, March 3, 1865, pp. 1421, 1422. 


upon which our government was founded, the practice of the 
fathers who founded it, and the almost unanimous sentiment of 
its presidents, congresses, and courts. 

I have shown that Congress undertook to provide for all the 
nece^ities which the Rebellion imposed upon the nation ; that it 
provided for the trial of every crime imputed to the petitioners, 
and pointed out expressly the mode of punishment. There is 
not a single charge or specification in the petition before you, — 
not a single allegation of crime, — that is not expressly pro- 
vided for in the laws of the United States ; and the courts arc 
designated before which such offenders may be tried. These 
courts were open during the trial, and had never been disturbed 
by the Rebellion. The military Commission on the tenth day 
of its session withdrew from the room where it had been sitting, 
that the Circuit Court of the United States might hold its regu- 
lar term in its own chamber. For the next ten days the Commis- 
sion occupied, by permission, the chamber of the Supreme Court 
of the State of Indfana, but removed to another hall when the 
regular term of that court began. This military Commission sat 
at a place two hundred miles beyond the sound of a hostile gun, 
in a State that had never felt the touch of martial law, — that had 
never been defiled by the tread of a hostile Rebel foot, except 
on a remote border, and then but for a day. That State, with all 
its laws and courts, with all its securities of personal rights and 
privileges, is declared by the opposing counsel to have been com- 
pletely and absolutely under the control of martial law; that not 
only the Constitution and laws of Indiana, but the Constitution 
and laws of the United States, were wholly suspended, so that 
no writ, injunction, prohibition, or mandate of any District or 
Circuit Court of the United States, or even of this august tribu- 
nal, was of any binding force or authority whatever, except by 
the permission and at the pleasure of a military commander. 

Such a doctrine, may it please the court, is too monstrous to 
be tolerated for a moment; and I trust and believe that, when 
this cause shall have been heard and considered, it will receive 
its just and final condemnation. Your decision will mark an era 
in American history. The just and final settlement of this great 
question will take a high place among the great achievements 
which have immortalized this decade. It will establish forever 
this truth, of inestimable value to us and to mankind, that a 
republic can wield the vast enginery of war without breaking 


down the safeguards of liberty; can suppress insurrection, and 
put down rebellion, however formidable, without destroying the 
bulwarks of law; can, by the might of its armed millions, pre- 
serve and defend both nationality and liberty. Victories on the 
field were of priceless value, for they plucked the life of tjie re- 
public out of the hands of its enemies ; but 

*• Peace hath her victories 
No less renowned than war,** 

and if the protection of law shall, by your decision, be extended 
over every acre of our peaceful territory, you will have rendered 
the great decision of the century. 

When Pericles had made Greece immortal in arts and arms, 
in liberty and law, he invoked the genius of Phidias to devise a 
monument which should symbolize the beauty and glory of 
Athens. That artist selected for his theme the tutelar divinity 
of Athens, the Jove-born goddess, protectress of arts and arms, 
of industry and law, who typified the Greek conception of com- 
posed, majestic, unrelenting force. He erected on the heights 
of the Acropolis a colossal statue of Minerva, armed with spear 
and helmet, which towered in awful majesty above the sur- 
rounding temples of the gods. Sailors on far-off ships beheld 
the crest and spear of the goddess, and bowed with reverent 
awe. To every Greek she was the symbol of power and glory. 
But the Acropolis, with its temples and statues, is now a heap 
of ruins. The visible gods have vanished in the clearer light of 
modern civilization. We cannot restore the decayed emblems 
of ancient Greece ; but it is in your power, O Judges, to erect 
in this citadel of our liberties a monument more lasting than 
brass, — invisible indeed to the eye of flesh, but visible to the 
eye of the spirit as the awful form and figure of Justice, crown- 
ing and adorning the republic ; rising above the storms of polit- 
ical strife, above the din of battle, above the earthquake shock 
of rebellion; seen from afar, and hailed as protector by the 
oppressed of all nations ; dispensing equal blessings, and cover- 
ing with the protecting shield of law the weakest, the humblest, 
the meanest, and, until declared by solemn law unworthy of 
protection, the guiltiest of its citizens. 

At the, second session of the Thirty-eighth Congress, a resolution was 
adopted, directing the Military Committee to " inquire and report to the 
House what legislation or action, if any, is necessary to secure to persons 


arrested and imprisoned by military authority a prompt examination into 
the causes of the arrest, and their discharge if there be no adequate 
cause for their detention, and a speedy trial where there is such cause.'* 
Upon a motion to reconsider this resolution, January i8, 1865, M^"- 
Garfield said : — 

I WISH to make two observations. First of all, I agree with 
what the gentleman from Maryland ^ has just said; and in illus- 
tration of what I desire to say, I call attention to a bill that 
passed the House last session, but did not pass the Senate, and 
which, in my judgment, is vitally important as a means to pre- 
serve the independence of the officers of our armies. Early in 
the war, it will be remembered, Congress, for good reasons, 
gave to the President the power of summary dismissal when he 
believed the public service would be subserved thereby. At 
that time the army was full of traitors, and it was necessary that 
by a more summary process than court-martial they should be 
driven out 

But it was thought last winter by the House of Representa- 
tives, that the danger had so far passed that we might safely 
repeal the law. Important as that law has been in some re- 
spects, — and none will doubt its value and necessity at the time 
of its enactment, — I am satisfied that in other respects it has 
had a very unfortunate influence. It has gone very far toward 
weakening the manliness and independence of the officers in the 
army. If, sir, I am in the army, and know that my superior 
officer can make such representations as will cause me to be 
dismissed without a hearing and without a trial, how strong is 
the tendency of that knowledge to make me a timid, subservient 
tool ! The whole tendency of it is to take away the personal 
independence and manliness of the subordinate officer, because 
he has no guard for his standing and position except the favor 
of his superior, — no right to demand, as the American officer 
always had in former times, that he should be speedily and 
fairly tried by a jury of his peers. For this reason we passed 
a bill last winter, by a very large majority, — almost unani- 
mously, I believe, — to repeal the law giving this power to the 
President. That bill is dying a lingering death at the other 
end of the Capitol. I believe that the bill ought to become 

a law. 

I desire, in the second place, to call attention to the fact that 

it is now the law, and has been since the foundation of our gov- 

1 Mr. Davis. 


ernment, that when an officer of the army is arrested for any- 
supposed crime or misdemeanor, he shall be held in arrest — it 
may be in close confinement and under guard, according to the 
enormity of the supposed offence — no longer than eight days 
without being furnished with a copy of the charges against him. 
The law also allows him a speedy trial. 

Now, without trenching upon the business in which the Com- 
mittee on Military Affairs was engaged this morning, I will say 
that one officer at least has been in confinement for five months 
within sight of this Capitol. Both he and his keeper declare 
that he has- not been furnished with a copy of the charges 
against him. He says tliat he has again and again demanded 
in vain to know with what crime he was charged. He is a man 
who bears upon his person honorable scars received in the ser- 
vice of his country ; he is a colonel ; and the vengeance of some 
one fell upon him, like a bolt from a clear sky. He declares 
that he knows no reason for it and can learn none. An agent 
of the War Department, an officer unknown to the laws and 
Constitution of the country, lays his hand upon a man, puts 
him in prison, where he is kept until said agent, or some power 
above him, is pleased to release him. There are plenty of al- 
leged cases where officers and citizens, after being confined for 
a long period, have been allowed to go out without a word of 
explanation concerning either the arrest or the discharge. 

I ask the House of Representatives whether that kind of prac- 
tice is to grow up under this government, and no man is to raise 
his voice against it, or make any inquiry concerning it, lest 
some one should say he is factious, unfriendly to the War De- 
partment, and opposing the Administration. Gentlemen, if we 
are not men in our places here, let us stop our ears to all com- 
plaints ; let every department do as it pleases ; and in meekness 
and in silence let us vote whatever appropriations are asked 
for. I do not say, for I do not know, that the head of any 
department is responsible for these things, or knows them. It 
may be they have been done by subordinates. It may be the 
heads of departments are not cognizant of the facts. I make 
no accusations ; but I do say, that it is our business to see that 
the laws be respected, and that if a man has no powerful friend 
in court he shall at least find the Congress of the United States 
his friend. I hope the resolution will not be reconsidered. 




March i6, 1866. 

In the Thirty-eighth Congress, Mr. Garfield was a member of the 
Committee on Military Affairs ; in the Thirty-ninth, he was transferred, 
at his own request, to the Committee of Ways and Means. This transfer 
marks a period in his mental history, and in the history of his public 
life. Now began his services in the field of economical discussion and 
legislation. " The Public Debt and Specie Payments " was the first of 
his Congressional speeches on this class of subjects. From this time on, 
he bore a prominent part in the discussion of loans, banks, taxation, tariff, 
paper money, and resumption, as these questions came before Congress 
and the country. As many of these questions were but phases of one 
great question — as they grew out of the same general facts — it will be 
well here to set those facts down once for all : — i. The enormous ex- 
penditures of the war. 2. The imposition of heavy taxation. 3. The 
creation of a great public debt. 4. The abandonment of specie pay- 
ments, and the issue by the national Treasury of legal-tender paper 
money. 5. The national banks, the creation of which involved the 
destruction of the old State banks of issue, and the assertion of exclusive 
jurisdiction over bank-note issues on the part of the general government. 
6. The over-issue and consequent depreciation of the currency. 

The legal-tender notes and the national banks were new fiscal instru- 
ments to the American people. Of the two acts creating them, the 
Legal Tender Act was by far the more radical and dangerous measure. 
It involved a complete reversal of the national policy, since from the day 
that the Constitution went into effect gold and silver had constituted the 
sole tenders for debt. This reversal of policy was justified at the time 
by alleging, (i.) That the government could not maintain specie pay- 
ments through the war, but must use a cheaper money ; and (2.) That 
Congress had the constitutional power, in time of war, to make paper a 


legal tender. Let it be noted that this power was expressly called a war 
power. Not only was the power thus limited, but it was held that, when 
the war was over, it would be the duty of the government to return to 
coin payments at the earliest practicable moment. The paper promises 
of the government — whether bonds or legal- tender notes — must then 
be redeemed in coin. 

The war over, the President, Secretary of the Treasury, and others 
who remembered and respected the promises of 1862 and 1863, thought 
that steps should immediately be taken in the direction of resumption. 
March 3, 1865, an act was approved which authorized the funding in 
six-per-cent gold bonds of the interest-bearing obligations of the govern- 
ment. At the opening of the next session, a more decided step was 
proposed; viz. to fund its non-interest-bearing obligations. February i, 
1866, a bill was reported from the Committee of Ways and Means that, 
after amendment, read thus : — 

" Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, That the act entitled 
* An Act to provide ways and means to support the government,* ap- 
proved March 3, 1865, shall be extended and construed to authorize the 
Secretary of the Treasury, at his discretion, to receive any Treasury notes 
or other obligations, issued under any act of Congress, whether bearing 
interest or not, in exchange for any description of bonds authorized by 
the act to which this is an amendment ; and also to dispose of any de- 
scription of bonds authorized by said act, either in the United States or 
elsewhere, to such an amount, in such manner, and at such rates as he 
may think advisable, for lawful money of the United States, or for any 
Treasury notes, certificates of indebtedness, or certificates of deposit, or 
other representatives of value, which have been or which may be issued 
under any act of Congress, the proceeds thereof to be used for retiring 
Treasury notes or other obligations issued under any act of Congress ; 
but nothing herein contained shall be construed to authorize any in- 
crease of the public debt : Pnnnded^ That the act to which this is an 
amendment shall continue in full force in all its provisions, except as 
modified by this act." 

This was a contractive measure. Its authors and defenders desired as 
early a return to specie payments as was practicable ; and they held that 
this end could not be reached \vithout reducing the volume of the cur- 
rency. Hence it was a proposition to fund greenbacks, as well as to 
provide for other obligations of the government as they should mature. 
It was opposed on various grounds, but mainly because, as was held, it 
would disturb the business of the country. Mr. McCulloch, Secretary 
of the Treasury, was known to be a resumption ist and a contractionist ; 
and it was well known that he would use whatever power the law gave 
him to carry out his ideas. The bill failed in the House, but was re- 


considered and recommitted to the Committee of Ways and Means. It 
came back to the House, with certain important restrictions and limita- 
tions. In the new form the bill passed both Houses, and was approved, 
April 12, 1866. This proviso was the most important of the new features 
of the bill : " Provided^ That of United States notes not more than ten 
million of dollars may be retired and cancelled within six months from 
the passage of this act, and thereafter not more than four million of 
doll2urs in any one month." 

" Of all the contrivances for cheating the laboring classes of mankind, none has been more 
effectual than that which deludes them with [irredeemable] paper money." — Danisl Webster. 

MR. SPEAKER, — After the long and spirited contest on 
this bill, I shall do little beyond making as plain a state- 
ment as I can of the great financial problem now before the 
country for solution. The bill relates to two leading points in 
that problem, viz. : — 

1. To our indebtedness that shall accrue from time to time in 
the course of the next three years. 

2. To our currency and its relation to the standard of value. 
I shall notice these in the order that I have named them. 
Several gentlemen have said, in the progress of this debate, 

that what might have been a very proper financial measure in 
time of war might be a very dangerous and unnecessary one 
in time of peace ; that the vast powers proposed to be given to 
the Secretary of the Treasury in this bill are powers justifiable 
only in time of great public danger, as in the late war. 

Now I beg to remind gentlemen that the financial problems 
before this country are becoming greater since the war than 
they were during its continuance. In the midst of the war, 
when the blood of the nation was up, — when patriotism was 
aroused, and the people were determined to put down the 
Rebellion and preserve the republic at all hazards, — when the 
last man and the last dollar were oft'ered a willing sacrifice, — it 
was comparatively easy to pass financial bills and raise millions 
of money. But now, when wc are to gather up all the pledges 
and promises of four terrible years, and redeem them out of the 
solid resources of the people in time of peace, the problem is 
far more difficult. To solve it successfully requires greater 
exertion, and perhaps even greater financial ability, than would 
be requisite were the war still raging. 


What is the amount of indebtedness to be met, and when 
must it be met? To this question I invite the careful and 
earnest attention of the House. I shall give the official state- 
ment of the amount of our total indebtedness, and also of that 
portion soon to become due. The amount of our public debt 
on the first day of this month was $2,7ii,850,ocx). Less than 
half of this amount is funded. Within the next three years 
$i,6oo,CX»,CX» of this debt will fall due, and will be presented 
at the counter of the Treasury Department for payment. That 
payment must be promptly made, or our paper goes to protest 
and our credit is broken. I hold in my hand an official table 
showing the amount of our indebtedness that matures during 
each half-year for the next two years, from which, after a word 
of explanation, I will read. 

There was on the last day of February, 1 866, a portion of 
our debt in the form of a temporary loan to the amount of 
$ii9»33S>i94-SO> payable at the option of the lender after ten 
days' notice- It would hardly be fair to reckon that whole 
amount as payable within the first six months, yet as it may be 
called for at any time, and is to the nation the least desirable 
form of loan, it must be added to the statement of indebtedness 
soon to be met. With this explanation, and supposing the 
payment of this loan to be demanded within the next six 
months, I call attention to the facts exhibited in the table. 

Between this and the 30th of June next, we must pay, 
in addition to the regular expenditure of the government, 
$138,674,874.82. During the six months ending December 31, 
1866, we must pay $47,665,000. During the six months ending 
June 30, 1867, we must pay $8,471,000. During the six months 
ending December 31, 1867, we must pay $350,000,000. During 
the six months ending June 30, 1868, we must pay $369,415,250. 
During the six months ending December 31, 1868, we must pay 
$287,564,482. So that between this and the assembling of the 
next Congress there must be paid over the counter of the 
Treasury, besides the ordinary expenses of the government, 

I am sure that every member of this House acknowledges 
that this is a sacred obligation, every dollar of which must be 
promptly met the day it is due. I take it for granted that no 
man here will consent that a single dollar of it shall go to pro- 
test, or that any act of this House shall bear the least taint or 


color of repudiation. We must, therefore, meet these obliga- 
tions. How can it be done? 

Mr. Spaulding. Does not this amount of indebtedness include the 
seven-thirty bonds for which the government may issue five-twenty 

My colleague is correct Most of the seven-thirty bonds are 
included in this amount, but they must be redeemed in money 
or five-twenty bonds at the holder's option. The Secretary has 
no power to compel an exchange. 

As I have already stated, there will be presented for payment 
in some form before the assembling of the Fortieth Congress 
$1,201,000,000, in addition to the ordinary expenditures of the 
government How are these demands to be met? With what 
power is the Secretary of the Treasury clothed to enable him 
to meet this enormous obligation? 

There are two clauses in the existing laws which give him 
some power. 

The first and chief is found in the last clause of the first sec- 
tion of the act of the 3d of March, 1865, which has been so 
ably discussed by my colleague on the committee.^ He has 
shown us — and no man, I believe, will venture to deny the 
correctness of the position — that the clause gives the Sec- 
retary of the Treasury power merely to exchange one kind of 
paper for another, but only with the consent of the holder. If 
the holder says, ** I will not take your long bonds, I demand 
my money," his money he must have. If, when the seven- 
thirty bond is due, the state of the market makes money more 
valuable than a six-pcr-cent bond for twenty years, the holder 
will of course demand money. He will of course take the 
option most profitable to himself and least advantageous to the 

The other clause is found in the act of June 30, 1864. 
The second section of that act allows the Secretary of the 
Treasury to take up the various kinds of paper representing 
indebtedness, and issue therefor compound-interest notes or 
seven-thirty bonds. These two descriptions of paper are of all 
others the most expensive for the government to issue. I say, 
then, concerning this power, it is one that the Secretary ought 
not to use. It would be a calamity should he be compelled to 

^ Mr. Allison, of Iowa. 


use it. It would be a calamity, in the first place, were he 
compelled to issue in exchange for maturing indebtedness these 
compound-interest notes, for they are the most costly paper 
the government can issue to its creditors, — notes that are pay- 
able in three years with interest compounded every six months. 
It is enough to break the financial strength of any nation. 
Again, by the provisions of this act the Secretary may issue 
seven-thirty bonds in exchange for matured indebtedness. 
They are short bonds. They now fill the market more than 
any others, and will be maturing after about twelve months. If 
we pay these out, it will be only for the purpose of taking up 
others of the same kind. Even this can be done only at the 
option of the holder. 

I say, therefore, that the Secretary is substantially limited in 
his power to these two clauses of the law : one that he ought 
not to use, and cannot use without great disadvantage to the 
public credit; and the other that he can use only for the pur- 
pose of an even exchange, and that, too, by the consent of 
the holders. Therefore he has but little power or discretion in 
funding the national debt. If Congress gives him no more 
power, the Treasury will be at the mercy of the public creditors, 
who may combine to control the stock market, and compel the 
Secretary to sacrifice the public credit to the gamblers of Wall 
Street. I hold it demonstrable that, if you leave the Secretary 
of the Treasury where he is, you abandon him to the mercy of 
the holders of the public securities, who, if they please, can 
utterly break him down, and send the paper of the government 
to protest. 

Under these circumstances, it was the duty of the Committee 
of Ways and Means to inquire what further power was neces- 
sary to enable the Secretary to meet these obligations as they 
mature, and put the debt into the form of long bonds at a lower 
rate of interest than we now pay. The committee believe that 
the bill now before the House gives the Secretary no more 
power than is needful for the accomplishment of the work be- 
fore him. With that power the Secretary believes he can do 
the work. Without it he cannot. 

If the plan now proposed be not adopted, it is incumbent upon 
this House to offer one that will accomplish the work. It is not 
enough that gentlemen are able to point out defects in this bill, 
and raise objections to it; but it is incumbent upon them to 


show us a plan which will acccomplish the desired result and 
not be liable to equally grave objections. 

Now, sir, what has been proposed as a substitute for this bill ? 
The distingruished gentleman from Pennsylvania^ has offered a 
substitute. I hope no one misunderstands his purpose. He is 
not only opposed to the pending bill, but he is unwilling to give 
the Secretary any additional power. He is not only unwilling 
to give the Secretary additional power, but he desires to take 
away much of the power already granted. His substitute con- 
sists of the committee's bill, with every vital provision cut out, 
and the following disabling section added : " Sec. 2. That all 
laws or parts of laws which authorize the Secretary of the Treas- 
ury to fund or withdraw from circulation any United States legal- 
tender notes not bearing interest be, and the same are hereby, 
repealed." If this substitute shall become a law, I desire it to 
be remembered that the House must take the responsibility of 
the disastrous results which may follow. I have undertaken to 
state the first great duty which rests upon the Secretary of the 
Treasury; namely, to meet the maturing indebtedness of the 
government. Before leaving the first point, however, let me 
say that the committee have not been willing to leave the Secre- 
tary merely the barren power of exchanging one form of paper 
for another, bond for bond, dollar for dollar, and that only at 
the option of the holder. It is proposed in this bill that he be 
permitted to put a loan on the market, to sell bonds for money, 
and with that money redeem the old bonds as they mature. 
Even if we had no desire to limit the volume of paper currency, 
it would be necessary to give him this power for the purpose of 
funding the debt. 

But I hasten to the consideration of the currency. I call 
attention to the fact that Congress has established a policy, 
which is now nearly four years old, in reference to the circulat- 
ing medium of the country. Five years ago there were in the 
United States over sixteen hundred banks, based on any and 
every kind of security, and issuing currency in such amounts 
as were authorized by the laws of the various States. The notes 
of one bank were based on real estate ; of another, on State 
stock ; of another, on United States stock. Each had its pecu- 
liar basis, its peculiar kind of currency, and regulated the amount 
of its circulation according to its own rules and opinions. Six- 

1 Mr. Stevens. 


teen hundred independent corporations were tinkering at the cur- 
rency. The result was, that a paper dollar in Ohio, though worth 
one hundred cents in gold at home, would pass for only ninety 
or ninety-five cents in California or Massachusetts. A Massa- 
chusetts dollar would fare equally hard in California. A paper 
dollar was worth its face in gold only in the immediate locality 
of its issue. 

In the progress of the war against the rebellion, there was 
adopted a system of national banks based on a uniform security, 
— the bonds of the United States, — so that a paper dollar is- 
sued in Ohio is worth no less when it reaches Massachusetts. 
It was not, however, thought prudent by the Thirty-seventh and 
Thirty-eighth Congresses to make the United States govern- 
ment a banker for the people, with arbitrary power to regulate 
the currency as it pleased. It was thought to be dangerous to 
repeat the history of the United States Bank of thirty years ago ; 
and therefore it was resolved that a national bank system, based 
on the bonds of the United States, and regulated by the ne- 
cessities of trade, should be the established policy of the gov- 
ernment. The greenback currency was issued only as a war 
measure, to last during the necessities of the war, then to be 
withdrawn, and give place to the national bank currency. 

The war is now ended ; and unless we mean to abolish the 
national bank system, and make the government itself a per- 
manent banker, we must retire from the banking business, and 
give place to the system already adopted. Unless gentlemen 
are now ready to abandon entirely the national bank system, 
they must consent that ultimately the greenback circulation 
shall be withdrawn, and that the notes of the national banks 
shall furnish a paper currency which, together with gold, shall 
constitute the circulating medium of the country. The com- 
mittee have proceeded on the belief that the national bank sys- 
tem is to be the permanent system of this country, and that the 
greenback circulation was only incidental to the necessities of 
war, and that with the removal of these necessities it was to be 

Shall we return to specie payments? and if so, when and 
how? The President, in his late annual message, has expressed 
clearly and determinedly the purpose of the executive depart- 
ment of the government td return at the earliest practicable 
moment to the solid basis of gold and silver. The Secretary of 


thq Treasury in his report sets forth, with very great clear- 
ness and ability, the importance of an early return to specie 
payments. And this House, on the i8th of December last, 
with but six dissenting votes, not only declared itself in favor 
of returning as speedily as practicable to a specie basis, but 
also declared that the currency must be contracted as a means 
of resumption. 

Now, how shall this be accomplished ? By what lever can the 
financial machinery be so moved as to effect the object so much 
desired by every department of the government? I answer, 
that the only lever in our hands strong enough to lift the burden 
and overcome every obstacle is our power over the greenback 
and fractional currency. In the first place, they constitute 
$450,000,000 of the volume of the currency. In the second 
place, they underlie the national bank system, and constitute 
the reserves required by law. 

It has been said in this debate, that the circulation is not 
redundant; that we have now no more paper money than the 
business of the country requires; that the rate of interest is 
high, the money market stringent, and prices greatly advanced. 
I hold it demonstrable that our redundant currency is the chief 
cause of the high prices and the stringent money market. 

I know that figures are not always the best index of the finan- 
cial situation. If they were, I might show that less than three 
hundred million dollars furnished the circulation of this country 
before the war, and that now we have more than a tliousanrl 
million. I need only refer to the hornbooks of financial sci- 
ence to show that the only sure test of the redundancy of paj)cr 
money is its convertibility into coin at the will of the holder, 
and that its redundancy will inevitably increase prices. On the 
latter proposition I will read a sentence from the highest livin^j 
authority in political economy, John Stuart Mill: ** That an in- 
crease of the quantity of money raises prices, and a diminution 
lowers them, is the most elementary proposition in the theory 
of currency, and without it we should have no key to any of 
the others." * 

Mjl Prjce. I want to ask the gentleman from Ohio whether there is 
any more ojrrency in circulation now than six months ago. In short, I 
want to know whether there has not been more currency in circubfion 
every day of the week, and ever>' week of the month, for the last six 

> Political Economy, Vol- II p. i5 /Boston, 1843^. 


months, — and has it not been increasing? I want to know whether 
it is not equally true, that gold has been coming down steadily, certainly, 
gradually, surely ; and not only that, but that the commodities of trade 
and commerce have come down in the same ratio. Yet the currency 
has been increasing, strange as it may seem. And the gentleman need 
not go back to the hornbooks to find out these facts. They stare us in 
the face every day. It cannot be denied that, while the currency has 
been increasing, gold has been going down. 

A paragraph from the Merchants' Magazine for January last 
will perfectly answer the gentleman's question. It is to this 
effect: the President's Message raised government securities 
at home and abroad, and depressed gold. The report of the 
Secretary of the Treasury accomplished still more. The very 
announcement of the policy of resumption has checked gold 
and stock gambling and brought down prices. That historical 
fact is a complete answer to the gentleman's question. Besides, 
sir, it must be remembered that six hundred millions of Rebel 
currency collapsed and disappeared on the day the so-called 
Southern Confederacy collapsed, and thus left a vacuum into 
which our currency has since been flowing. 

I call attention, because the gentleman from Pennsylvania^ 
has referred to it, to a remarkable example in British finan- 
cial history. I have never seen a more perfect illustration of 
the truth that history repeats itself, than this debate as com- 
pared with the debate in the British Parliament during their 
great struggle for a return to specie payments after the war 
against Napoleon. From 1797 to 1819 the British people had 
only a paper circulation, and, as is always the case, the poorer 
currency drove out the better. As respectable people leave 
that portion of a city in which disreputable people settle, so 
gold retires before an irredeemable paper currency. If our 
customs and the interest on our public debt had not been made 
payable in coin, gold would have disappeared from the country. 
In England, when they had no gold in circulation, when prices 
had risen, when rents had risen, after stocks had fallen, English- 
men did what we are now attempting to do. 

In 1 810 a committee of the ablest financiers and statesmen 
was ordered to report the cause of high prices and the premium 
upon gold, and after a laborious investigation, during which the 
most distinguished men were called in as witnesses, that most 

^ Mr. Stevens. 


able paper, the Bullion Report, was submitted to Parliament. 
In that report the principle was enunciated that the only true 
test of the redundancy of currency is its comparison in value 
with gold; that whenever a paper dollar is not exchangeable 
for a gold dollar, it is proof that there are too many paper dol- 
lars; and there can be no surer test. In the report of that 
committee it was laid down as a fundamental proposition, that 
nothing but the supreme test of gold applied to paper will 
certainly determine the question of redundancy. That report 
was debated for many weeks, and every leading banker, broker, 
importer, and jobber of England opposed the Bullion Com- 
mittee and the proposed return to cash payments. The meas- 
ure was defeated. Gold and prices immediately rose. From 
181 1 to 1819 there was a steady rise in prices and stocks; and 
in the year 18 19 another committee of the House of Commons 
was appointed to examine and report on the financial situation 
of the kingdom. Three members of the Bullion Committee of 
1810 were also on the committee of 18 19. After a most search- 
ing investigation, they reported in favor of resumption, and 
indorsed the doctrines of the Bullion Report. 

Then it was that Sir Robert Peel distinguished himself as 
the great statesman and financier of England by declaring in 
the House of Commons his conversion to the doctrines of the 
Bullion Report, which he had so strenuously opposed eight 
years before. I have before me the records of the great debate 
in which that illustrious man lamented that the distinguished 
author of the Bullion Report of 181 1 ^ was not then alive to 
aid him in that struggle, and witness the triumph of those prin- 
ciples so clearly set forth in 181 1. Eight years of terrible ex- 
perience had demonstrated the truth of the Bullion Report. 
** Sir," said Peel, ** \vc shall never have financial security in this 
country until we adopt the principles of that report " ; and after 
a Parliamentary struggle, the report of which fills nearly five 
hundred pages of Mansard's Debates, the report was adopted, 
and its principles have ever since been the acknowledged creed 
of Great Britain and of all other countries whose people have 
carefully studied the subject. I refer to this, sir, as a matter of 
history, and I further assert that there is no respectable author- 
ity on the subject of finance, on the other side of the water or 
here, that denies the doctrine that the only true test of redun- 

1 Francis Horner. 
VOL. I. 13 


dancy of currency is its convertibility into gold. You may 
bring your figures to prove that we have no more currency 
than our trade requires; but I tell you that so long as your 
paper dollar cannot be converted into gold, there is too much 
currency, and the moment it can be converted into gold for its 
face, it has reached a stable and safe basis. 

Now, if any gentleman here has the temerity to deny this 
doctrine, I shall be pleased to hear his reasons for it. To make 
his denial good, he must prove that the immutable laws of value 
have been overthrown. He cannot plead that the necessities of 
trade alone control the value of currency. Double the amount 
of currency, and the money market will be apparently more 
stringent ; triple the amount, and money will be more stringent 
still. Why .do we need four times as much money now to 
move the products of the country as was needed five years 
ago? Simply because the inflation of the currency has quad- 
rupled prices and deranged values. 

But the worst feature in the case is the stimulus which this 
inflation gives to dishonesty everywhere, and the consequent 
discouragement of productive industry. I will not now ques- 
tion the policy of the act of 1862, by which paper money was 
made a legal tender. It was perhaps a necessity of the war 
that could not have been avoided. But no one will deny that it 
unsettled the basis of all values in this country. It was a decla- 
ration by law that a promise to pay a dollar might be dis- 
charged by paying a sum less than a dollar. There was a 
time within the last two years when an obligation to pay one 
hundred dollars could be legally cancelled by the payment of 
thirty-eight dollars. The manifold evils resulting from such a 
state of things cannot be computed. To fulfil in January the 
contract of July may ruin the creditor, because the meaning of 
the most important word in the contract has been changed by 
the changing market. The dollar of July may have represented 
forty cents, while the dollar of January may represent double 
that sum. 

Will prudent men embark in solid business, and risk all they 
possess to such uncertain chances? There is left open the 
alluring temptation to speculate on the rise and fall of gold, 
stocks, and commodities, a pursuit in which all that is gained by 
one is lost by another, and no addition is made to the public 
wealth. And this is the history of thousands of our business 


men. They have trusted their capital to the desperate chances 
of Wall Street. They have embarked on the sea of paper 
money, and they ask us to keep the flood rising that they may 
float Every day adds stimulus to this insane gambling, and 
depresses legitimate business and honest labor. The tide must 
be checked, and the fury of the flood restrained. Wc must 
bring values back to the solid standard of gold. Let that be 
done, and the fabric of business is founded, not on the sand, but 
on the firm rock of public faith. The fury of the storm tore us 
from our moorings, and left us to the mercy of the waves. Let 
us pilot the good ship again into port, so that we may once 
more feel the solid earth beneath our feet. 

How perfectly prices have kept pace with the currency let 
the history of the last five years show. Name any one year in 
which the currency has been more inflated than in the preced- 
ing, with no prospect of contraction, and you will find prices 
proportionately advanced. I hold in my hand the price list of 
the last four years, as published in the Merchants* Magazine. 
Take, for example, the average price of flour. In January, 
1861, it was $5.35 per barrel; in 1862, it was $5.50; in 1863, 
$6.05; in 1864, it was $7; in 1865, $10. The prices kept in \ 

exact proportion to the volume of the currency. Now, in Jan- 
uary, 1866, after the President, the Secretary of the Treasury, 
and Congress had made a decided movement toward specie 
payments, and indicated their purpose to restore the old stan- 
dard of value, the price dropped to $8.75 per barrel, as the 
average for the month. Take any one of the sixty-three 
articles on this market list, and it will exhibit the same truth, 
that an expanded currency produces high prices. British and 
French history, as well as our own, give the same testimony on 
this subject. I do not, of course, suppose that resumption will 
bring us down to old prices. Heavy taxes and the increased 
product of gold will hold prices higher than they were before 
the war. 

I cannot leave this point without citing the great authority of 
Daniel Webster on the subject of irredeemable paper money. 
I quote from his speech of May 25, 1832, on the Bank of the 
United States : — : 

"A sound currency is an essential and indispensable security for the 
fruits of industry and honest enteq:)rise. Every man of property or in- 
dustry, every man who desires to preserve what he honestly possesses, or 



to obtain what he can honestly earn, has a direct interest in maintaining 
a safe circulating medium ; such a medium as shall be a real and sub- 
stantial representative of property, not liable to vibrate with opinions, 
not subject to be blown up or blown down by the breath of speculation, 
but made stable and secure by its immediate relation to that which the 
whole world regards as of a permanent value. A disordered currency is 
one of the greatest of political evils. It undermines the virtues necessary 
for the support of the social system, and encourages propensities destruc- 
tive of its happiness. It wars against industry, frugality, and economy ; 
and it fosters the evil spirits of extravagance and speculation. Of all the 
contrivances for cheating the laboring classes of mankind, none has been 
more effectual than that which deludes them with paper money. This 
is the most effectual of inventions to fertilize the rich man's field by the 
sweat of the poor man's brow. Ordinary t}Tanny, oppression, excessive 
taxation, these bear lightly on the happiness of the mass of the commu- 
nity, compared with a fraudulent currency and the robberies committed 
by depreciated paper. Our own history has recorded for our instruction 
enough, and more than enough, of the demoralizing tendency, the in- 
justice, and the intolerable oppression on the virtuous and well disposed, 
of a degraded paper currency authorized by law, or in any way counte- 
nanced by government." ^ 

Resumption is not so difficult a work as many suppose. It 
did not take so long in England as the gentleman from Pennsyl- 
vania^ stated in his speech this afternoon. In July, 1819, Par- 
liament decreed that after February i, 1820, the Bank should 
begin to redeem in small quantities, and should increase the 
amount at stated periods until May, 1823, when full specie pay- 
ment should be made. The Bank contracted its circulation, 
reduced the price of gold, and fully resumed payments. May i, 
1 82 1, only fifteen months after the law went into operation. I 
should be sorry to see a sudden contraction of our currency 
and a rapid decline in gold. It would be too great a shock to 
business. But if the Secretary is armed with the requisite power, 
he can make the movement so steadily and gradually as not to 
disturb, to any dangerous degree, the course of business and 

The chief objection urged against the pending bill is that it 
confers too much power, — more than ought to be intrusted to 
any man. Now, sir, a tremendous power was given to General 
Grant, when the lives of hundreds of thousands of men were 
placed absolutely at his disposal. Sherman was intrusted with 

1 Works of Daniel Webster, Vol. III. pp. 394, 395. 2 Mr. Stevens. 


vast power when he started with his great army on his march 
to the sea. But it was necessary to trust some one with that 
power. Congress could not command armies and plan cam- 
paigns. So also, in the present emergency, some one must be 
trusted with power. Congress cannot negotiate a loan, cannot 
regulate the details of the currency, or fund the debt. It must 
delegate the power. I will not eulogize the present Secretary 
of the Treasury ; he needs no eulogy from me. It is the Sec- 
retary of the Treasury, not Hugh McCuUoch, who needs this 
power. I vote to give it to the incumbent of that high office, 
whoever he may be, and hold him responsible for the use he 
may make of it. 

I repeat it, sir, if gentlemen do not approve this bill, they 
should offer some other plan that will accomplish the desired 

[Here Mr. Garfield turned aside from the direct line of his argument 
to discuss the question of the States taxing the national bonds. As the 
subject of taxing the bonds is much more fully discussed in the speech 
of July 15, 1868, that branch of his argument is here omitted.] 

The gentleman from Pennsylvania ^ tells us he is in favor of 
returning to specie payments when it can be done without dis- 
turbing or deranging the business of the country. If he waits 
for that, it can never be done. It cannot be done without first 
contracting the currency and producing a temporary stringency 
in the money market. If we have not the nerve to do that, if 
we have not patriotism to suffer that temporary inconvenience, 
we must go on in the swift road to financial disaster and ultimate 
national bankruptcy. 

The gentleman says we must reach specie payments by pro- 
tection. He says, if we protect our manufactures we shall keep 
gold from going abroad. This is not his first attempt to regu- 
late the value and movement of gold by legislation. After a 
few days' trial, his law of 1864 for that purpose was repealed. 
I do not oppose protection. I am in favor of protecting the 
sanctity of contracts by bringing all values back to the basis of 
a uniform standard. Then our iron mills will not stand idle, 
as they now do, because of the risk occasioned by the violent 
fluctuation of prices. 

Mr. Speaker, this is our only remedy. I have faith in the 

^ Mr. Stevens. 


Secretary of the Treasury that he will, by and by, with as little 
disturbance to business as possible, bring us to specie pay- 
ments. We have travelled more than one quarter of the way 
since Congress met. Gold was then 148, now it is 130. Mercury 
in the barometer is not more sensitive to atmospheric influences 
than is the gold market to the legislation of Congress. Witness 
the following paragraph from the financial column of a recent 
New York daily: "Wall Street is more animated to-day in 
consequence of the report, which is extensively believed, that 
all loan bills will be made conducive to inflation, and that the 
temper of Congress is hostile to all measures looking toward 
contraction of the greenback currency. This is interpreted 
to be favorable to higher prices, and is already producing its 
effects in stimulating speculation." Defeat this bill and there 
will be a jubilee in Wall Street. This House must take the 


The bill having been lost ofi the i6th of March by a small majority, 
Mr. Garfield changed his vote so as to enable him to move to reconsider, 
which motion was sustained by the House on the 19th. Before moving 
the previous question, Mr. Garfield said : — 

Mr. Speaker, — Every gentleman in this House must admit 
that, during the short time given to the committee this morn- 
ing, a full hearing has been given to two of the ablest gentle- 
men who oppose this measure, and I presume their views could 
not have been more strongly stated in the same length of time 
than they have just been stated by the gentleman from Massa- 
chusetts.^ But I wish to call his attention and that of the House 
to the fact that, in the discussion of the bill, he has raised an 
issue aside from the question. He has undertaken to antagonize 
the policy of the Secretary of the Treasury with the business 
interests of the country, and has told us that we are putting in 
the hands of the Secretary a power which may be used against 
the industry and honest labor of the country. 

We propose, sir, to put power into his hands to be used 
against those financial gamblers who would break down the 
public credit, and thus injure the most important interests of 
the country. I would be the last man to cast a vote that could 
oppress the manufacturer, or any other producer of wealth, and 

1 Mr. Boutwell. 


I believe that the honorable Secretary asks for power, not to 
oppress, but to encourage industry. But I ask gentlemen 
whether they have considered where he will be left in case we 
do not give him the power he now asks. Why does he ask it? 
The President of the United States declared a financial policy, 
which has been more fully elaborated by the Secretary, and we 
are now asked to give him power to carry out that policy ; but 
gentlemen hesitate, because it may bring a temporary pressure 
upon the business of the country. 

The gentleman has stated the amount of currency that might 
be withdrawn under the provisions of this bill, and says if the 
whole were withdrawn it would cause a disastrous collapse. He 
has forgotten that there is nearly $300,000,000 of gold and 
silver in this country which will flow into the circulation as the 
gfreenback currency is retired. He has also forgotten that we 
are now producing over $100,000,000 in gold and silver every 
year from our mines. He has omitted these very considera- 
ble sums, which changes entirely the conditions of the problem 
before us. 

Mr. Stevens. From what data does the gentleman undertake to say 
that there is ^300,000,000 in gold now in this country ready for circula- 

I base my estimate on the opinion of those who have given 
the subject careful attention, and also upon the condition of our 
foreign exchanges. The gentleman is aware that exchange for 
gold with all nations is now in our favor, and that cannot be 
unless we have a very considerable quantity of gold in the 

Mr. Stevens. I have seen no record of over $70,000,000. 

There are $57,000,000 in the Treasury now, besides what is 
deposited in banks and in private coffers. Beside this, it must be 
remembered that gold is now the currency of the Pacific States. 
But the fact that foreign exchange is in our favor is an indubi- 
table proof that we have a large supply of specie. 

Mr. Kelley. Will the gentleman permit a single brief question? 
Is not the inflowing volume of gold a return for bonds, rather than for 
produce of any kind, raw or manufactured ? 

That does not alter the fact. By whatever means it comes, 
we have the gold, and the supply is increasing, and will increase' 
so long as we pursue the policy of resumption. 


And now, once for all, I desire to say, before leaving this 
subject, that neither the Secretary of the Treasury nor the Com- 
mittee of Ways and Means intends or desires that there shall be 
a rapid contraction of the currency; there is no purpose of 
that kind. Already, in anticipation of the measure now under 
discussion, gold is falling even more rapidly than is desirable. 
I am sorry to see it move downward so fast as it does. And 
the Secretary of the Treasury, if he could, would make its de- 
cline more gradual. 

Mr. Speaker, the question is, will we give the Secretary of 
the Treasury the power to initiate the policy of contraction of 
the currency, as the House indicated so decisively on the i8th 
of December last?^ What other policy has been suggested? 
A policy has been suggested by the gentleman from Pennsyl- 
vania ^ in a bill he introduced this morning. That bill author- 
izes the Secretary of the Treasury to take up short bonds as 
they mature, and issue greenbacks in payment. If it should be 
adopted, $1,000,000,000 of greenbacks would be issued in the 
next eighteen months. I have upon my desk a pamphlet 
written by a citizen of Pennsylvania signing himself " Patriot,'* 
who recommends the immediate issue of $1,000,000,000 of 
greenbacks, and believes it would put the country in a healthy 
condition for business ! This enthusiastic pamphleteer rises 
to the sublime, if not to the blasphemous, and declares, as the 
sum of his financial wisdom, that next to the immortal God 
paper money is the greatest and most beneficent power on this 
earth. This " Patriot " will be delighted with the biM of his 
distinguished representative. 

Mr. Speaker, there is no leading financier, no leading states- 
man, now living, or who has lived within the last half-cen- 
tury, in whose opinion the gentleman can find any support. 
They all declare, as the Secretary of the Treasury declares, that 
the only honest basis of value is a currency redeemable in 
specie at the will of the holder. I am an advocate of paper 
money, but that paper money must represent what it promises 
on its face. I do not wish to hold in my hands the printed lies 

1 The reference is to this resolution, adopted at that time : "Resolved, That this 
House cordially concurs in the views of the Secretary of the Treasury in relation 
to the necessity of a contraction of the currency with a view to as early a resump- 
.tion of specie payments as the business interests of the country will permit; and 
we hereby pledge co-operative action to this end as rapidly as practicable." 

-2 Mr. Kclley. 


of the government; I want its promise to pay, signed by the 
high officers of the government, sacredly kept, in the exact 
meaning of the words of the promise. Let us not continue to 
practise this conjurer's art, by which sixty cents shall discharge 
a debt of one hundred cents. I do not want industry every- 
-where to be thus crippled and wounded, and its wounds plas- 
tered over with legally authorized lies. 

A bill was introduced into the House expressing the wishes 
of the Secretary of the Treasury. The Committee of Ways 
and Means reduced its proportions, and struck out several pro- 
visions that they believed could safely be spared. They struck 
out tho foreign loan clause, and restricted the power conferred 
by it till the Secretary declares that with any less power he shall 
be unable to fund our indebtedness and manage our finances. 

I propose, sir, to let the House take the responsibility of 
adopting or rejecting this measure. On the one side, it is pro- 
posed to return to solid and honest values; on the other, to 
float on the boundless and shoreless sea of paper money, with 
all its dishonesty and broken pledges. We leave it to the 
House to decide which alternative it will choose. Choose the 
one, and you float away into an unknown sea of paper money, 
that shall know no decrease until you take just such a measure as 
is now proposed to bring us back again to solid values. Delay 
this measure, and it will cost the country dear. Adopt it now, 
and with a little depression in business and a little stringency 
in the money market the worst will be over, and we shall have 
reached the solid earth. Sooner or later such a measure must 
be adopted. Go on as you are now going on, and a financial 
crisis worse than that of 1837 ^^ill bring us to the bottom. 
For one I am unwilling that my name shall be linked to the 
fate of a paper currency. I believe that any party which com- 
mits itself to paper money will go down amid the general dis- 
aster, covered with the curses of a ruined people. 

Mr. Speaker, I remember that on the monument of Queen 
Elizabeth, where her glories were recited and her honors 
summed up, among the last and the highest, recorded as the 
climax of all her achievements, was this, — that she had restored 
the money of her kingdom to its just value. And when this 
House shall have done its work, when it shall have brought back 
values to their proper standard, it also will deserve a monu- 



April 14, 1866. 

On motion of Mr. Garfield, the reading of the Journal of yesterday was 
dispensed with. He then said : — 

MR. SPEAKER, — I desire to move that this House do 
now adjourn. And before the vote upon that motion is 
taken I desire to say a few words. 

This day, Mr. Speaker, will be sadly memorable so long as 
this nation shall endure, which God grant may be ** till the last 
syllable of recorded time," when the volume of human history 
shall be sealed up and delivered to the Omnipotent Judge. In 
all future time, on the recurrence of this day, I doubt not that 
the citizens of this republic will meet in solemn assembly to 
reflect on the life and character of Abraham Lincoln, and the 
awful, tragic event of April 14, 1865, — an event unparalleled 
in the history of nations, certainly unparalleled in our o'.vn. It 
is eminently proper that this House should this day place upon 
its records a memorial of that event. 

The last five years hav6 been marked by wonderful develop- 
ments of individual character. Thousands of our people, before 
unknown to fame, have taken their places in history, crowned 
with immortal honors. In thousands of humble homes arc 
dwelling heroes and patriots whose names shall never die. But 
greatest among all these great developments were the character 
and fame of Abraham Lincoln, whose loss the nation still de- 
plores. His character is aptly described in the words of Eng- 
land's great Laureate, — written thirty years ago, — in which 
he traces the upward steps of 


** Some divinely gifted man, 
Whose life in low estate began 
And on a simple village green ; 

** Who breaks his birth's invidious bar, 
And grasps the skirts of happy chance, 
And breasts the blows of circumstance, 
And grapples with his evil star ; 

** Who makes by force his merit known 
And lives to clutch the golden keys, 
To mould a mighty State's decrees, 
And shape the whisper of the throne ; 

** And, moving up from high to higher, 
Becomes on Fortune's crowning slope 
The pillar of a people's hope, 
The centre of a world's desire.** 

Such a life and character will be treasured forever as the 
sacred possession of the American people and of mankind. 

In the great drama of the rebellion there were two acts. The 
first was the war, with its battles and sieges, its victories and de- 
feats, its sufferings and tears. That act w^as closing one year ago 
to-night, and, just as the curtain was lifting on the second and 
final act, the restoration of peace and liberty, — just as the cur- 
tain was rising upon new characters and new events, — the evil 
spirit of the rebellion, in the fury of despair, nerved and directed 
the hand of an assassin to strike down the chief character in 
both. It was no one man who killed Abraham Lincoln ; it was 
the embodied spirit of Treason and Slavery, inspired with fearful 
and despairing hate, that struck him down, in the moment of the 
nation's suprcmcst joy. 

Sir, there are times in the history of men and nations, when 
they stand so near the veil that separates mortals from the im- 
mortals, time from eternity, and men from their God, that they 
can almost hear the beatings and feel the pulsations of the heart 
of the Infinite. Through such a time has this nation passed. 
When two hundred and fifty thousand brave spirits passed from 
the field of honor, through that thin veil, to the presence of 
God, and when at last its parting folds admitted the martyr 
President to the company of these dead heroes of the republic, 
the nation stood so near the veil that the whispers of God were 
heard by the children of men. Awestricken by His voice, the 
American people knelt in tearful reverence and made a solemn 


covenant with Him and with each other, that this nation should 
be saved from its enemies, that all its glories should be restored, 
and, on the ruins of slavery and treason, the temples of freedom 
and justice should be built, and should survive forever. 

It remains for us, consecrated by that great event, and under 
a covenant with God, to keep that faith, to go forward in the 
great work until it shall be completed. Following the lead of 
that great man, and obeying the high behests of God, let us 
remember that 

** He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat ; 
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat; 
O, be swift, my soul, to answer Him ! be jubilant, my feet 1 
Our God is marching on." 

I move, sir, that this House do now adjourn. 



July io, 1866. 

The Morrill Tariff, enacted at the close of the Congressional session 
of 1860-61, greatly increased the duties on imported goods. This legis- 
lation was had partly to fill the depleted national treasury, but more 
especially to give protection to American industry. It marked a definite 
triumph of the protective principle. Subsidiary to this act, other legis- 
lation of the same general character was had from time to time, reaching 
to the close of the war. Now, it was said, there was a call for still higher 
protection. Accordingly, June 25, 1866, Mr. J. S. Morrill, the author of 
the former measure, now the chainiian of the Committee of Ways and 
Means, reported fi'om that committee a bill to provide increased revenue 
fix)m imports, and for other purposes. The " other purposes " were 
greater protection. In vindicating the measure, Mr. Morrill said, June 28, 
that the war had greatly deranged the industrial and fiscal economy of 
the country. Immense masses of wealth had been destroyed, the pro- 
ducing power of the country much reduced, new industrial adjustments 
had been made, a vast debt had been created, and heavy burdens of 
taxation incurred. Nothing but heavier duties on imports would furnish 
the needed revenue, and enable American labor to comj)ete with foreign 
labor. Mr. Garfield, who was a member of the Committee of Ways and 
Means, bore a prominent part in the discussion of the bill. This, his 
principal speech, was delivered on July 10, just before the vote was taken. 
In it he discusses for the most part general doctrines ; his views on 
specific points must be sought in his briefer remarks and in his votes. 
In the House the bill was carried ; in the Senate it was referred to the 
Finance Committee, and postponed to the next session. Then it came 
back to the House, greatly changed, where it finally failed to pass. 

MR. SPEAKER, — At this late hour of the session, and after 
the protracted discussion in which so many gentlemen 
have engaged, I would not further trespass upon the patience 


of the House but for the fact that this bill has been so gravely 
misrepresented here, and so unjustly assailed from without. 
There has been raised against it no small clamor for iniquities 
which it does not contain, and for omissions which have not 
been made. 

This is not the time to enter into any elaborate discussion of 
those general principles which underlie the most complicated 
of financial subjects, the trade between the United States and 
other nations. The abstract theories of free trade and protec- 
tion, as laid down in the books, can be of little practical value 
in the consideration of this bill. The disciples of either school 
would be puzzled to apply their doctrines to the present situa- 
tion of our trade and commerce, as has been strikingly illus- 
trated during the progress of this debate. There is scarcely 
a free-trader on this floor who has not, since this discussion 
began, in order to secure a higher duty on some product in 
which his constituents were interested, made use of arguments 
which met the hearty approval of the most extreme protection- 
ists; and, on the other hand, when these same protectionists 
have been desirous of bringing into the country some article 
important to their people, we have heard them again and again 
defend their propositions by declarations which would bring 
down thunders of applause from an audience of free- trade 

There are two extremes of opinion in this House and in the 
country to which I cannot assent. During the past year I have 
been frequently solicited to subscribe publicly to the dogmas of 
various organizations based on opposite and extreme doctrines 
in relation to our financial policy ; but I have steadily declined 
to do so, partly for the reason that I could not assent to all their 
articles of faith, and partly because I preferred to approach the 
questions on which we were to legislate untrammelled by any 
abstract theory, which, although apparently sound, might be 
impracticable when applied to the facts of our situation. I 
would not be misunderstood ; nor for any political advantage 
to myself personally would I allow my constituents to suppose 
that I indorsed any doctrines which, though they should be 
pleasing to many of them, do not meet my own convictions of 
truth and duty. 

If to be a protectionist is to adopt the practice which char- 
acterized the legislation of Great Britain and the leadings nations 


of Europe for more than two hundred years, and which is now 
commended to us by some of our political philosophers and 
statesmen, then I am no protectionist, and shall never be one. 
If to be a protectionist is to base our legislation upon the policy 
which led the Parliament of Great Britain, from the days of 
Elizabeth to the days of Charles II., to forbid the exportation 
of sheep and wool from the kingdom, under penalty of confisca- 
tion and imprisonment for the first offence, and torture and 
death for the second; which led the same Parliament in 1678 to 
pass a law entitled " An Act for the encouragement of woollen 
manufactures," that ordered every corpse to be buried in a 
woollen shroud ; which led the Lord Chancellor to declare the 
necessity of going to war with Holland because the commerce 
of the Dutch was surpassing that of Great Britain ; which led 
the diplomatists of England to insist on an article in the treaty 
of Utrecht of 171 3, in accordance with which the finest harbor 
in Northern Europe was filled up and hopelessly ruined, lest 
by its aid the trade of France should eclipse that of England ; 
which tortured industry in every imaginable way, and ignored all 
the great laws of value, of exchange, and of industrial growth ; 
which cost England her North American colonics, and plunged 
Europe into more wars during the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries than all other causes combined ; — if to be a protec- 
tionist means this, or anything fairly akin to this, then, I repeat, 
I am no protectionist. That policy, softened down in its out- 
ward manifestations, but essentially the same in spirit, is urged 
upon us now by those who would have us place so high a duty 
upon foreign merchandise as to prohibit the importation of any 
article which this country produces or can produce. By so 
doing, besides placing ourselves in an attitude of perpetual hos- 
tility to other nations, and greatly reducing our carrying trade, 
we should make monopolists of all the leading manufacturers of 
this country, who could fix the price of all their products at 
their own discretion. 

If, on the other hand, we should adopt the theories of the 
radical free-traders, and declare that our tariff shall be all for 
revenue and nothing for protection, — and particularly, were we 
to put that doctrine in practice at such a time as in 1836, when 
we had no debt and a large surplus in the treasury to be given 
away, — no one can fail to see that we should break down the 
dikes which our predecessors had erected for the defence of 


American industry, — should destroy or seriously cripple our 
manufactures, which produce nearly one half the annual income 
of our people (for the manufactured products of this country in 
i860 were valued at $1,900,000,000), — should revolutionize our 
industrial system, and place ourselves at the mercy of foreign 
manufacturers. If to be a free-trader means all this, and pledges 
us to let the competition of the world come in upon our people, 
and thus to disjoint and derange the industrial system of the 
United States, then I am no free-trader, and can never be. 

One of the worst features in our industrial system is the 
irregularity and uncertainty of the legislation in reference to the 
tariff. It subjects the business of manufacturing to the uncer- 
tainty of a lottery. If the prohibitionists succeed one year, the 
profits of manufacturers are enormous; if, as is quite probable, 
the reaction of the next year puts free-traders in power, the 
losses are equally great. Let either of these parties frame the 
tariff, and the result will be calamitous in the highest degree. 

What, then, is the point of stable equilibrium, where we can 
balance these great industries with the most reasonable hope of 
permanence ? We have seen that one extreme school of econo- 
mists would place the price of all manufactured articles in the 
hands of foreign producers, by rendering it impossible for our 
manufacturers to compete with them ; while the other extreme 
school, by making it impossible for the foreigner to sell his 
competing wares in our market, would leave no check upon the 
prices which our manufacturers might fix upon their products. 
I hold, therefore, that a properly adjusted competition between 
home and foreign products is the best gauge by which to regu- 
late international trade. Duties should be so high that our 
manufacturers can fairly compete with the foreign product, but 
not so high as to enable them to drive out the foreign article, 
enjoy a monopoly of the trade, and regulate the price as they 
please. To this extent I am a protectionist. If our govern- 
ment pursues this line of policy steadily, we shall year by year 
approach more nearly to the basis of free trade, because we 
shall be more nearly able to compete with other nations on 
equal terms. I am for a protection which leads to ultimate free 
trade. I am for that free trade which can be achieved only 
through protection. 

I desire to call attention briefly to some of the fallacies and 
misrepresentations by which this bill has been assailed. In the 


first place, it has been stated again and again that this is a New 
England measure, and repeated attempts have been made to 
arouse sectional jealousy based on that allegation. I affirm 
that this is not a New England measure, but that, more than 
any tariff ever framed by Congress, it protects and aids the ag- 
ricultural interests of the country. If there has ever been an 
agricultural tariff, this is one. 

Look at its provisions on the subject of wools. It is proposed 
to increase the duty on foreign competing wools from six cents 
per pound to ten cents per pound, and ten per cent ad valorem^ 
making the total tariff about eleven and a half cents per pound. 
It takes two pounds of the mestiza wool of South America to 
equal one pound of our American wool. It is, therefore, a pro- 
tection of twenty-three cents per pound on American wools of 
the finer qualities, which comprise the great bulk of our wool. 
Now, there is grown in the United States one hundred million 
pounds of wool per annum ; and yet the gentleman from Iowa ^ 
tells us that, in consequence of the peculiarity of the climate 
and soil of South America, we can never compete with that 
country in the production of wool. In the same short speech 
the gentleman confuted himself by declaring that wool-growing 
was so profitable in Iowa that it did not need protection. 

Mr. Kasson. I beg leave to correct the gentleman. I said dis- 
tinctly that, in the West, on the prairies and on the plains, where land is 
cheap, grass abundant, and the winters mild, we should ultimately be 
able to compete with the world. 

Then what becomes of his praise of the superior advantages 
of South America? I did not so understand the gentleman. 
Now, sir, I am surprised that any Representative from the State 
of Ohio, where we have six million sheep and where we raise one 
fifth of all the wool in the United States, should be found to 
oppose this measure as being framed in the interest of New 

Let me notice another agricultural feature of the bill. There 
are fifty ships trading constantly with Calcutta, bringing India 
flaxseed to our shores. In order to encourage the home 
growth, we have raised the duty on flaxseed from sixteen to 
thirty cents per bushel, and on linseed oil from twenty-three to 
thirty cents per gallon ; yet gentlemen say this is a bill for New 

^ Mr. Kasson. 
VOL. I. 14 


England. If there be any protection in any existing law more 
clearly in the interest of agriculture, I should be obliged to any 
gentleman if he will name it. 

Now, I do not deny that there are some features of this bill 
which I desire to see changed. I believe we ought to reduce, 
and I believe we shall reduce, the proposed duty on several ar- 
ticles named. But if a dozen articles out of the hundreds named 
in the bill were somewhat reduced, I would be pleased if any 
gentleman here would then point out its supposed exorbitant 
features and alleged enormities. It is very easy to join in a 
general clamor which others have raised, but not so easy to 
state the cause of the outcry. 

Mr. Farquhar. I desire to ask the gentleman what, in his judg- 
ment, would be the effect of increasing the duty on railroad iron one 
hundred per cent, as it is increased by this bill, including the amount of 
deduction made by the Internal Revenue Bill, upon the great interests 
of the West, now largely engaged in the construction of additional 

I am willing, as a compromise and to favor the building of 
railroads, to vote for a reduction of the proposed duty on rail- 
road iron, and I presume the Committee of Ways and Means 
will agree with me in this. I think we should also reduce the 
proposed duty on salt, and I have no doubt in several other 
particulars we shall be able to reduce the rate of duty. 

Mr. Stevens. Why not at once come out honestly and accept the 
proposition of the gentleman from Iowa,* which is a much better and 
more ingenious one ? 

I will tell the gentleman why before I am done. The gen- 
tleman from Iowa 2 says wc ought not to adopt the policy of 
protecting those industries of this country that we can make 
money at, and if the people cannot make money out of manu- 
facturing enterprises, let them go into something more profitable. 
He says wc can raise grain for the world without protective 
legislation. Let me repeat to him a little of the history of grain- 
raising in this country. There was a time when New England 
was a great grain-raising country. At a later period, New York 
was the granary of the New World. Later still, the granary was 
Pennsylvania, then Ohio ; then it was still farther to the west. 
But what is the situation now? New England raises wheat enough 

^ Mr. Wilson. 2 i\^^ Kasson. 

THE TARIFF BILL OF i866. 21 1 

to feed her people three weeks in the year ; New York raises 
enough to feed her people six months; Pennsylvania just about 
enough to supply the wants of her people, with none to spare ; 
and Ohio produces a surplus of three million bushels. You 
must now go to the prairies of the West before you reach the 
granary of this country. Now, I wish to say that this talk 
about putting our people wholly into the business of raising 
grain for the world is utterly absurd and mischievous. Let me 
put a practical question to these extreme free-trade gentlemen 
in reference to this matter. Suppose that to-day we were at 
war with the great powers of Europe, — suppose we had always 
been practising their precepts, and were engaged wholly in 
raising grain, — having no manufacturing establishments, as we 
should not have had but for the protection that has been ac- 
corded to that kind of industry by our predecessors, — should 
we not be completely at the mercy of the other nations of the 
earth? Edward Everett declared in a speech in 183 1, after 
making a careful estimate, that the extra amount paid by the 
government of the United States for woollen blankets and cloth- 
ing for their soldiers in the war of 181 2 largely exceeded the 
amount of revenue ever derived by the United States from all 
its tariffs for the protection of all our industries from the foun- 
dation of the government to 1831 ; and that it would have 
effected a great saving to the government if Congress had ex- 
pended many millions of money directly from the treasury before 
that war, and had built up and had in readiness these manufac- 
tories for the use of the government during the war. 

Against the abstract doctrine of free trade, as such, very little 
can be said. As a theory, there is much to commend it ; but 
it can never be applied to nations, except in time of peace. It 
can never be applied to the nations of the earth, except when 
they are on the same range of growth and culture. Let war 
come, and it utterly destroys and overturns the whole doctrine 
in its practical application. Says Prcscott : — 

" Nothing is easier than to parade abstract theorems, true in the ab- 
stract, in political economy ; nothing harder than to reduce them to 
practice. That an individual will understand his own interests better 
than the government can, or, what is the same thing, that trade, if let 
alone, will fmd its way into the channels on the whole most advantageous 
to the community, few will deny. But what is true of all together is not 
true of any one singly ; and no one nation can safely act on these prin- 


ciples if others do not. In point of fact, no nation has acted on them 
since the formation of the present political communities of Europe. All 
that a new state, or a new government in an old one, can now propose 
to itself is, not to sacrifice its interests to a speculative abstraction, but 
to accommodate its institutions to the great political system of which it 
is a member. On these principles, and on the higher obligation of pro- 
viding the means of national independence in its most extended sense, 
much that was bad in the economical policy of Spain at the period under 
review may be vindicated." ^ 

The example of England has been held up before us. A 
word about that example. There is a venerable member in this 
hall who was a member of this House long before England had 
professed her free-trade doctrines, — while she was one of the 
most highly protective nations on the face of the earth. For 
two hundred years she pursued a policy that was absolutely 
prohibitory; then followed a protective period ; now she pro- 
fesses free trade. When she had built up her manufactures, 
and had become able to compete successfully with the world in 
matters of commerce, she graciously invited all nations to drop 
their protective policy and become free-traders. It is like a 
giant or an athlete who, after months of training, asks all the 
delicate clerks and students to come out and fight or run with 
him on equal terms. 

I have before me a statement of the revenues of Great Britain 
for the last year. Her total revenue was $354,000,000. Of this 
sum» $115,000,000, or thirty-two per cent, she raised from cus- 
toms ; and it is a remarkable fact that that is precisely the per 
cent of our revenue that was raised from customs last year. 
This shows that she raises as much by her tariff as we do by 
ours in proportion to the amount of our revenue. If gentlemen 
desire simply to prostrate us before England, if they desire to 
capitulate to her in commerce as we never have capitulated in 
arms, let them follow in the lead of these free-trade philoso- 
phers. I hold a pamphlet in my hand that was laid upon the 
desks of members this morning; and in reply to the question 
of my colleague,^ Who in this country is demanding that this 
bill be defeated or postponed? I will tell him. Here is the 
address of the Free-Trade Association of London to the Ameri- 
can Free-Trade League, and if I had time I would read a few 

1 Ferdinand and Isabella, Vol. I. p. 488 (Philadelphia, 1873). 
8 Mr. Delano. 



extracts from it Let me read you one of the headings : " Pro- 
tection unnecessary to foster manufactures in their infancy/' 
They have evidently outgrown their teachers, for John Stuart 
Mill admits that much. England never taught that doctrine 
until her manufactures had passed beyond their infancy, and 
stood breast-high with the world in the full vigor of manhood. 
I read a sentence from this disinterested lecture of English- 
men to Americans, — of the shopkeeper to his customer, — of 
the '' nation of shopkeepers " to the nation of customers and 
grain-raisers that some gentlemen would have us become: 
" You have most truly remarked in your constitution that pro- 
tection to the producer means robbery to the consumer." Now, 
the gentleman from lowa^ who has just made his speech pro- 
ceeds upon the doctrine that protection is itself robbery ; and 
of course he will vote against this bill, and against all other bills 
that propose to throw any protection whatever around American 

Two propositions are before the House to keep us from act- 
ing directly upon this bill. The real question is, Shall we pass 
the bill after the requisite amendments have been made? But, 
fearing it may pass, the gentleman from lowa^ picks out a few 
pleasant items that refer mainly to the West, with a sprinkling 
for the East, and asks us to have the bill sent back to the com- 
mittee, with instructions to report those items alone. He offers 
a bait to one section of the Union to induce its representatives 
to neglect another. 

Mr. Speaker, it is painful to listen to the sectional language 
that we hear every day in our debates. One gentleman sneers 
at New England, and says, " This measure is a New England 
pet"; another points at Pennsylvania, and hits her off in an 
epigrammatic sentence; another turns to the rough, sturdy 
West, and splinters his lance in a sharp assault upon her. I 
always understood, during the terrible struggle of the past four 
years, that we did not fight for New England, for Pennsylvania, 
or for the West, but wc fought for the Union, with all its one- 
ness, its greatness, and its glory. And if we are now to come 
back, after the victory is won, and hold up our party flags, and 
talk about '* our section *' as against " your section," we are 
neither patriots nor friends. There should be no division of in- 
terest in all great matters of national legislation. And if New 

1 Mr. Kasson. ^ Mr. Wilson. 


England has advanced further than Pennsylvania or the West, 
and does not so much need protection, she must bear with her 
sisters until they, following in her footsteps, can stand on a 
basis of equal growth and prosperity. I hope, therefore, no 
such partial legislation as that suggested by the motion of the 
gentleman from Iowa will prevail. I should be ashamed to vote 
for a measure that singled out the interests of my own State and 
neglected the interests of others. 

Mr. Wilson. Peraiit me to correct the gentleman, for he is entirely 
mistaken in regard to the proposition I made. It does not pick out a 
few interests, but leaves a margin not exceeding twenty-five per cent on 
everything embraced in the bill. 

I want to say in regard to the margin of twenty-five per cent, 
that nothing can be more absurd than to say that any one rate 
per cent shall be the limit put upon all articles, under any and 
all circumstances. And that reminds me of a point which I was 
about to forget. I wish to call the attention of the House to 
the reason why any revision of the tariff is heeded at this time. 
The present tariff law was passed in 1864; gold was then at 
200, and it rose during the year to 285. Our tariff was adjusted 
to that situation of the currency; and what would be highly 
protective then might give no protection now, or when gold 
shall be as low as it has been since this House met in session. 
That is the great trouble with us now. We are afloat without 
any fixed standard of value, and that which would be a proper 
duty to-day may be a high duty to-morrow and a low one next 
day. I greatly regret that we have not been able to reach 
nearer to the solid basis of specie, and base our currency and 
all our legislation upon some fixed standard. But while we are 
tossing as we now are, going up and down twenty and thirty 
per cent on gold in the space of a month, it is necessary that 
we have a tariff, temporarily at least, that will safely shield the 
interests of the country until we have passed the dangers and 
reached a more stable financial condition. 

One other proposition has been submitted, and with a notice 
of that I will conclude. The gentleman from Massachusetts * 
proposes that the whole subject be laid over until another winter. 
For many reasons I should be glad if we could have more time 
to perfect the measure. It would be well if we could give two 
or three months of careful study to the problems connected 

1 Mr. Dawes. 


with this bill. But gentlemen must remember that the chances 
and changes of the next five or six months may be disastrous 
to our industries, if we do not, before the close of this session, 
adopt some legislation to protect them against sudden danger. 
I am sorry, therefore, that my friend from Massachusetts saw 
fit to offer that proposition ; it is really only another mode of 
killing the bill, and I can hardly believe that he desires such a 

I hope, sir, that both the propositions to which I have re- 
ferred will be voted down ; that we shall amend the bill in sev- 
eral particulars, making it as equitable as possible in all its 
provisions ; and that we shall pass it. And when the country 
comes to understand clearly what we have done, I believe that 
the clamor of which we have heard so much will cease, and that 
the wisdom of the measure will be vindicated. 



September i, 1866. 

FELLOW-<;iTIZENS,— The great conflict of arms through 
which the nation has passed, the many and peculiar con- 
sequences resulting therefrom, and especially the new duties 
devolving upon the people, must, for the present and for many 
years to come, be the chief topics of political discussion. The 
stupendous facts of the Rebellion overshadow and involve all 
other political considerations, and the new problems arising 
out of the contest are beset with difficulties of unusual magni- 
tude. The work of overcoming these difficulties and solving 
these problems has been committed by the good people of the 
United States to their representatives in the legislative, execu- 
tive and judicial departments of the Federal government, and 
some progress has been made during the past year in overcom- 
ing them. I shall undertake to show you, my fellow-citizens, 
what progress the servants of the people have made in the 
discharge of these high duties. I shall speak of the progress 
made during the past year in, — 
I. Our financial affairs; 
II. Our military affairs ; 

III. The restoration of the States lately in rebellion. 

First, our financial affairs. The pecuniary cost of the war 
was enormous, and without a parallel in history. It is impos- 
sible even to comprehend the sum expended. It can only be 
understood when compared with other expenditures. In the 
statements I shall make concerning the cost of the war, let it 
be remembered that I do not include the loss occasioned by 
the withdrawal of more than two millions of laborers from in- 
dustrial pursuits, nor the vast sums expended by States, counties, 


cities, and individuals in payment of bounties, and for the relief 
of sick and wounded soldiers and their families, nor the larger 
losses, which can never be estimated, of property destroyed by 
hostile armies. The cost of which I shall speak is that which 
appears on the books of the Federal Treasury. 

For three quarters of a century the debt of Great Britain has 
been considered the financial wonder of the world. That debt, 
which had its origin in the Revolution of 1688, was swelled by 
more than one hundred years of wars, and other political dis- 
asters, till, in 1793, it had reached the sum of $1,268,000,000. 
From that time till 1815, a period of twenty-two years of terri- 
ble war, England was engaged in a life and death struggle with 
Napoleon, — the greatest war of history save our own, — and 
at its close, in 181 5, she had added $3,056,000,000 to her debt, 
a sum which all the world thought must bring her to financial 
ruin. From the 30th of June, i860, to the 30th of June, 1865, 
the expenditures of the government of the United States were 
more than $3,500,000,000; that is, in five years, we increased 
our debt $500,000,000 more than England increased hers in 
twenty-two years of her greatest war, — almost as much as she 
increased it in one hundred and twenty-five years of war. 

But let us compare ourselves with ourselves. Our official 
records show that the total cost of our war of Independence 
was $135,000,000, and the total expenditure of the Federal 
government, from the meeting of the First Congress on the 4th 
of March, 1789, to June 30, i860, was $2,015,000,000; making 
the total expenditures from the beginning of the Revolution in 
1775 to the beginning of the Rebellion, $2,150,000,000. That 
is, the expenses of the last five years have been $1,350,000,000 
more than all the previous expenses since the government was 

According to the census of i860, the total value of all the 
real and personal property in the United States was sixteen 
billions of dollars ; the cost of the war was more than three 
and a half billions, — that is, every one hundred and sixty dol- 
lars' worth of property became liable for the payment of thirty- 
five dollars of war expenses. Our debt is part of the money 
price which the nation pledged to save its existence, and we 
are bound by the sense of gratitude, of honor, and of patriotism 
to redeem that pledge, principal and interest, to the uttermost 
farthing. The loyal people have accepted the responsibility, 


and cheerfully consent to bear the burden of such taxes as 
would hardly be endured by any other nation. Indeed, a lead- 
ing English journal has recently declared that, if Parliament 
should impose a tax upon the English people as heavy as the 
one now paid by the people of the United States, it would 
cause a rebellion in that kingdom. 

More than $800,000,000 of our expenses was paid by taxa- 
tion while the war was in progress, and during the last fiscal 
year, besides paying our heavy annual expenses, we have re- 
duced the debt $124,000,000; so that, on the ist of August, 
1866, our debt stood at $2,633,000,000. Should we be able to 
reduce it at the same rate hereafter, the last dollar of it would 
be paid in twenty-one years. Nearly all of this debt is held by 
citizens of the United States, who loaned their money to the 
government at a time when traitors were hoping, and faint- 
hearted friends were fearing, that our cause would be lost. It 
was a sublime and inspiring spectacle to see the loyal millions, 
from the wealthy capitalist to the day laborer, offering their 
substance as a loan to the government, when their only hope 
of return rested in their faith in the justice of our cause and 
the success of our arms. There were single days in which 
$25,000,000 was thus offered. Less than half the debt is now 
in long bonds, which have from fifteen to thirty-five years to 
run, but $1,600,000,000 will fall due within two years and a 
half. As they cannot be paid by taxation in so short a time. 
Congress at its last session passed a loan bill, authorizing the 
Secretary of the Treasury to retire these short bonds, and put 
out in their stead long bonds, if practicable, at a lower rate 
of interest. The bill, however, did not authorize any increase 
of the debt, but only an exchange of long bonds for short ones, 
which is now being effected. 

Intimately connected with our public debt is our national 
currency. At the breaking out of the war, the currency of the 
country consisted of gold and silver, and the circulating notes 
of sixteen hundred banks, organized under the laws of the dif- 
ferent States. The notes of these banks, not being based upon 
any uniform security, were of different relative value, and were 
always of less value as they were farther from home. Our pa- 
per-money system had become a grievous evil, for which there 
seemed to be no remedy. But tjie necessities of the war com- 
pelled the government to take some new step, and the oppor- 


tunity was fortunately seized by our distinguished Secretary of 
the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, to sweep away the vicious sys- 
tem of State banks, which had grown up in defiance of the plain 
declaration of the Constitution, that ** no State shall emit bills of 
credit, or make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in 
payment of debts," and to substitute in its place our present cir- 
culation of greenbacks and national bank notes. When a citizen 
holds a dollar of this bank paper in his hand, he knows that 
there is one dollar and ten cents in government bonds locked 
up in the vaults of the treasury at Washington and pledged 
for its redemption, in case the bank should fail. This dollar is 
national, and not local. It is the same in Minnesota as in Maine. 

But another and still more important advantage has been 
gained by the change in our system of currency. Under the 
old system, the general government had no control over the 
amount of currency in circulation. Each bank issued notes in 
accordance with the laws of the State in which it was organized. 
Now, it is a well-settled principle of finance, that no more 
money is needed in any country than just the amount necessary 
to effect the payments to be made in that country. If there be 
less than that amount, the money market is stringent, and ex- 
changes are difficult; if there be more, the surplus causes a 
rise in prices, or, v/hat is the same thing, a depreciation of the 
value of each dollar. By taking the control of the currency 
into its own hands, Congress was enabled to regulate the amount 
of circulation in accordance with the necessities of business. 

The vast expenditures of the war required a large increase 
of the volume of the currency. Before the war, about three 
hundred millions of money was needed for the business of the 
country. Much of the time during the war, we had more than 
one thousand millions. Now that we are returning to the pur- 
suits of peace, it becomes necessary to reduce the amount of 
our paper money, and thus bring prices down to the old stan- 
dard. To determine whether there is too much currency in 
circulation is always difficult, but the best criterion is the price 
of gold. We may be certain that in times of peace, when 
there are no great disturbing political causes at work, if a paper 
dollar is worth much less than a gold dollar, there are many 
more paper dollars than the business of the country demands. 
Therefore, in the Loan Bill, Congress provides for a gradual 
contraction of the currency. Under the operation of that law. 


and with a judicious management of our revenues, we may 
expect a gradual decline in gold, and a corresponding fall in 
prices, until we shall reach the solid basis of gold and silver. 
An uncertain and changeable standard of value is a great finan- 
cial evil. If the dollar of to-day shall be worth a dollar and a 
half in six months from now, the debtor must pay fifty cents 
more than he promised; if in six months the dollar shall be 
worth that much less, the creditor would suffer a similar loss. 

Here let me remark that, if the Democratic party, which holds 
to the extreme doctrine of State rights, should come into power, 
they would, without doubt, sweep away our national currency 
system, and return to the wretched system of State banks and 
State currency. 

The maintenance of our national credit, and the ultimate 
redemption of our national debt, must depend mainly on a 
wise, just, but severe system of Federal taxation. Until the 
beginning of the late war, but one of the great nations of the 
earth was so lightly taxed as our own. We had not studied 
the science of taxation, because, happily, we had no need to 
do so. But the war brought the heaviest burdens upon our 
people, and when the Thirty-ninth Congress assembled, we 
found that many of our taxes were levied upon those branches 
of industry which were least able to bear them. Nearly all 
our revenues are derived from two sources, viz. the customs 
or tariff duties, and internal taxes. Congress made at the late 
session a thorough revision of the internal revenue system, and 
it is believed that many important improvements have been 
made. The provisions of the revenue law of July 13, 1866, are 
based upon the following general principles : — - 

1. Taxes which tend to discourage the development of wealth 
should be abolished or greatly reduced, and the law be so ad- 
justed that the burdens shall chiefly fall on realized property. 

2. Taxes should not be duplicated by taxing the different 
processes through which an article passes in being manufac- 
tured, but the tax should be laid upon the finished article when 
ready for sale. 

3. Articles of prime necessity, like provisions, clothing, agri- 
cultural implements, should be nearly or quite exempt from 
taxation, and the public burdens should fall upon articles which 
minister to vice and luxury. 

Guided by these general principles, and finding that the 


ample revenues of the goverament would enable us to reduce the 
amount of taxation seventy-five millions, Congress proceeded 
to exempt entirely from taxation building materials, such as 
building stone, slate, marble, brick, tiles, window glass, paint, 
painter's colors, linseed oil and other vegetable oils, lime, and 
Roman cement; also repairs of all kinds; also agricultural 
implements and products, such as machinery for the manufac- 
ture of sugar, syrup, and molasses from sorghum, imphee, beets 
and com, ploughs, cultivators, harrows, planters, seed drills, 
hand rakes, grain cradles, reapers, mowers, threshing machines, 
winnowing mills, corn shellers, and cotton gins ; also such ar- 
ticles of prime necessity as gypsum, and fertilizers of all kinds, 
maple, beet, sorghum, and beet sugar, and molasses, vinegar, 
saleratus, starch, and soap valued at less than three cents per 
pound; also American steel and railroad iron; and, finally, 
all tombstones valued at less than $ioo, and all monuments, 
whether erected by public or private munificence, to commemo- 
rate the service of Union soldiers who fell in battle or died in 
the service. They reduced the tax on clothing and on boots 
and shoes from six per cent to two per cent ; exempted milliners 
and dress-makers from tax, and exempted shoemakers and 
tailors the value of whose work exclusive of materials does not 
exceed one hundred dollars per annum. The tax on slaughtered 
animals, being a war tax, was repealed. Except cotton and to- 
bacco, no agricultural product is now taxed at all. No license 
or special tax is now required of farmers, while all other pursuits 
and professions are required to pay such a tax, from ten to one 
thousand dollars, and more, in proportion to the amount of the 
business done. 

As an illustration of the vicious system of duplication of taxes, 
it was found that by the time an American book was sold in the 
market there had been paid from twelve to fifteen separate taxes 
upon it. Each constituent part of the book — paper, cloth, 
leather, boards, thread, glue, gold-leaf, and type material — had 
paid a tax of from three to five per cent, and the finished article, 
when sold, had paid a tax of five per cent upon the selling price. 
The law was therefore so amended as to remove the tax from the 
separate parts and processes, and levy it on the finished product. 
On this principle the tax on mineral coal, pig-iron, and castings 
for parts of machinery, was repealed, and placed upon the ma- 
chine when finished. The tax was removed from crude petro- 


leum, and placed upon the refined article when ready for use. 
The tax on stoves and hollow ware for domestic use was re- 
duced from six to three dollars per ton. That our educational 
forces might not be weakened, the tax on books, magazines, 
newspapers, printing paper, and all printing material, was greatly 
reduced. The heaviest taxes are now levied on distilled spirits, 
ale, beer, tobacco, cigars, refined petroleum, cotton, gas, car- 
riages of high value, and gold and silver plate ; but silver table 
ware used by any one family, not exceeding forty ounces, is 
exempt from tax. Fifty per cent of all our internal taxes arc 
raised on manufactures. Stamp taxes, another very productive 
source of revenue, are nearly all paid by the business men of the 

Our second source of revenue is the customs duties on im- 
ported goods, from which we realize about one third of all our 
revenues. A carefully revised tariff bill passed the House, but 
was postponed in the Senate till the next session. It provided 
for increased protection on American wool, linseed, tobacco 
and cigars, iron and steel, and the various articles manufactured 
from them. A bill was passed, however, which will indirectly 
effect a considerable increase of tariff duties. As the law before 
stood, the ad valorem duties on imports were levied on the price 
at which the articles were purchased in the foreign country, ex- 
clusive of cost of transportation to the seaboard and the port 
charges. Importers bought their goods far in the interior, and 
consequently paid the duty on a price much lower than the 
article could be bought for at the point of export. By the new 
law the duty is to be levied on the articles after all the transpor- 
tation, storage, weighagc, wharfage, and port charges have been 
added to the original purchase price. This will both increase 
the duties and protect the government against fraud. 

On the general question of protection there are great extremes 
of opinion among the people of the United States, and these ex- 
tremes appear in full strength among their representatives in 
Congress. One class would have us place so high a duty upon 
foreign merchandise as to prohibit the importation of any ar- 
ticle which this country produces or can produce. Besides 
placing us in an attitude of perpetual hostility to other nations, 
and greatly reducing our carrying trade, this policy would tend 
to make monopolists of all the leading manufacturers of this 
country, who could fix the price of all their products at their 
own discretion. 



If, on the other hand, we should adopt the theories of the 
radical free-trader, and declare that our tariff shall be all for 
revenue and nothing for protection, and particularly should that 
doctrine be put in practice at such a time as 1836, when we had 
no debt, and a large surplus in the treasury, no one can fail to 
see that we should break down the dikes which our predecessors 
have erected for the defence of American industries which pro- 
duce nearly one half the annual income of the people. It would 
revolutionize our industrial system, and place us at the mercy 
of foreign manufacturers. Let either of these parties frame the 
tariff, and the result will be calamitous in the highest degree. 

One of the worst features of our industrial system is the 
irregularity and the uncertainty of the legislation in reference 
to the tariff. It subjects the business of manufacturers to the 
uncertainty of a lottery. If the high protectionists succeed one 
year, the profits • of the manufacturers are enormous ; if, as is 
quite probable, the reaction of the next year puts free-traders 
in power, their losses are equally great. What, then, is the 
point of equilibrium where we can balance these great indus- 
tries with the most reasonable hope of permanence ? We have 
seen that one extreme school of economists would place the 
price of all manufactured articles in the hands of foreign pro- 
ducers, by rendering it impossible for our manufacturers to 
compete with them; while the other extreme school, by making 
it impossible for the foreigners to sell their competing wares in 
our market, would leave no check upon the prices which our 
manufacturers might fix upon their products. I hold, therefore, 
that a properly adjusted competition between home and foreign 
products is the best gauge by which to regulate international 
trade. Duties should be so high that our manufacturers can 
fairly compete with foreign manufacturers, but not so high as 
to enable them to drive out foreign articles, enjoy a monopoly, 
and regulate the prices as they please. To this extent I am a 
protectionist. If our government pursues this line of policy 
steadily, we shall, year by year, approach more nearly the basis 
of free trade, because we shall be more nearly able to compete 
with other nations on equal terms. I am for that protection 
which leads to ultimate free trade ; I am for that free trade 
which can be achieved only through protection. 

Secondly, our military affairs. When the Rebellion col- 
lapsed, in 1865, we had on the rolls of the army and in the pay 


of the government over one million soldiers. A few weeks later 
a larger army than was ever actually engaged in one battle, with 
a rare perfection of discipline and completeness of military out- 
fit, marched in review before the President and his Cabinet at 
Washington ; mustered out of service, these soldiers quietly re- 
sumed the pursuits of peace, and mingled again with the mass 
of citizens. There had been in the field more than two millions 
of Union soldiers, of whom two hundred and fifty thousand per- 
ished in battle and by disease, and almost as many more came 
home nearly or quite disabled by the accidents of war. In 
January last the army had been reduced to one hundred and 
twenty-three thousand men, and Congress has now fixed its 
numbers for the future at about fifty-five thousand. In reor- 
ganizing the army, and adding new regiments. Congress has pro- 
vided that all company officers needed to fill the places result- 
ing from the increase of the regular army, and two thirds of the 
field officers, shall be taken from the volunteers, to be selected 
from officers or enlisted men, no distinction being made between 
them. But applicants must produce evidence of good character 
and capacity, stand an examination before a board, and show, in 
addition to their testimonials, that they have faithfully and effi- 
ciently served, cither as officers or men, at some time during the 
war against the Rebellion. Congress has also provided that four 
regiments of infantry and two regiments of cavalry shall be col- 
ored men, and their officers shall be selected from those officers 
who commanded colored troops during the war. It is also pro- 
vided that four regiments shall be made up of officers and en- 
listed men who received injuries while in the service of their 
country, but are still able to perform garrison duty and other 
light service. 

The pension list has been largely increased, and the pensions 
of soldiers and sailors who have lost both arms or both legs have 
been doubled. No patriot will object to the increased burden 
imposed upon him in discharging his sacred duty to those 
heroic sufferers. 

The legislation in reference to equalizing bounties was not so 
satisfactory. It was very desirable to pass some law by which 
the bounties to volunteers should be made to approach equality. 
A considerable portion of the army received no bounties, while 
others received large local, State, and national bounties. It is 
a difficult question to settle on any just basis without involving 


the government in a dangerous increase of the public debt. 
After mature deliberation the Military Committee of the House 
brought in a bill which provided that every soldier who had re- 
ceived no bounty should be paid eight and one third dollars for 
every month of honorable service, which would be one hundred 
dollars for each full year. If he had received a bounty, but less 
than that amount, the government should {:>ay him the deficit ; 
so that every soldier in the Union army should receive a bounty 
of at least one hundred dollars for each year of honorable ser- 
vice. This bill passed the House by the unanimous vote of the 
Union members, but the Senate took no action upon it. Near 
the close of the session the Senate added to an appropriation 
bill a section increasing the pay of members of Congress. The 
House refused to concur, but added in place of that section the 
House Bounty Bill. The Senate refused to concur, but after 
several conferences between the two houses, a section was 
agreed upon which gives a bounty of one hundred dollars to 
every soldier who enlisted and served three years, and who has 
not already received more than one hundred dollars bounty, and 
a bounty of fifty dollars to every soldier who enlisted and served 
for the term of two years, and who has not already received a 
bounty of more than one hundred dollars. The operation of 
this section is confined exclusively to these two classes ; it 
gives no more for four years' service than for three, and gives 
nothing to those soldiers who enlisted for a less term than 
two years. It is much less just than the flouse bill, and, since 
it was coupled with a section which increases the pay of mem- 
bers of Congress, I voted against both sections. They passed 
the House, however, by a majority of one, and became law. 
It is hoped and believed that the original flouse bill, or some 
equivalent measure, will become a law at the next session. 

Although measures of financial and military legislation are 
worthy of the earnest attention of every citizen, I fear I have 
already dwelt too long upon them. I therefore invite your 
attention to the questions that so nearly concern our future 
peace, that form the great issues which must be settled by the 
ballots of the people at the coming election. 

Thirdly, the restoration of the late Rebel States. For a clear 
understanding of the issues, let us consider the character of the 
contest through which we have passed. 

The Rebellion had its origin in two causes; first, the political 

VOL. I. 15 


theory of State Sovereignty, and second, the historical accident 
of American slavery. The doctrine of State Sovereignty, or 
State Rights as it has been more mildly designated, was first 
publicly announced in the Virginia Resolutions of 1798, but was 
more fully elaborated and enforced by Calhoun in 1830 and 
1833. Since that time it has been acknowledged as a funda- 
mental principle in the creed of the Democratic party, and has 
been affirmed and reaffirmed in some form in nearly all its State 
and national platforms for the last thirty years. That doctrine, 
as stated by Calhoun in 1833, is in substance this: "The Con- 
stitution of the United States is a compact to which the people 
of each State acceded as a separate and sovereign community ; 
therefore it has an equal right to judge for itself as well of the 
infraction as of the mode and measure of redress.'* The same 
party identified itself with the interests of American slavery, and, 
lifting from it the great weight of odium which the fathers of the 
republic had laid upon it, became its champion and advocate. 

When the party of freedom had awakened the conscience of 
the nation, and had gained such strength as to show the De- 
mocracy that slavery was forever checked in its progress, and 
that its ultimate extinction by legislative authority was fore- 
doomed, the Democratic leaders of the South joined in a mad 
conspiracy to save and perpetuate slavery by destroying the 
Union. In the name of State Sovereignty they declared that 
secession was a constitutional right, and they resolved to en- 
force it by arms. They declared that, as the Constitution to 
which each State in its sovereign capacity acceded created no 
common judge to which a matter of difference could be referred, 
each State might also in its sovereign capacity secede from the 
compact, might dissolve the Union, might annihilate the repub- 
lic. The Democracy of eleven slave States undertook the work. 
As far as possible, they severed every tie that bound them to 
the Union. They withdrew their representatives from every 
department of the Federal government; they seized all the 
Federal property within the limits of their States; they abol- 
ished all the Federal courts and every other vestige of Federal 
authority within their reach ; they changed all their State con- 
stitutions, transferring their allegiance to a gov^ernmcnt of their 
own creation, styled the '* Confederate States of America " ; 
they assumed sovereign power, and, gathering up every possi- 
ble element of force, assailed the Union in the most savage and 


merciless war known to civilized nations. It was not, as some 
maintain, merely a lawless insurrection of individual traitors; 
it was '* a civil territorial war," waged by eight millions of trai- 
tors, acting through eleven traitor States consolidated into a 
gigantic despotism of treason, — a government de facto ^ to 
which the laws of nations accorded belligerent rights. The 
Confederacy was acknowledged as a belligerent by all the lead- 
ing nations of Europe, and at last by every department of the 
government of the United States; by the Supreme Court in 
the celebrated prize cases of 1862, and by repeated acts of both 
the executive and legislative departments. 

Never was an issue more clearly made up or more desper- 
ately contested. The Confederates fought for slavery and the 
right of secession, for the destruction of the Union and the 
establishment of a government based on slavery ; the loyal 
millions fought to destroy the Rebellion and its causes. They 
fought to save slavery by means of disunion; we fought to 
establish both liberty and union, and to make them one and 
inseparable now and forever. It was a life and death struggle 
between ideas that could no longer dwell together in the same 
political society. There could be no compromise, there could 
be no peace, while both were left alive. The one must perish 
if the other triumphed. 

There was no compromise. The struggle was continued to 
the bitter end. In the larger meaning of the word, there was 
no surrender. The Rebels did not lay down their arms, for the 
soldiers of the Union wrenched them from their grasp. They 
did not strike their traitor flag; it was shot down by loyal bul- 
lets. The Rebel army never was disbanded ; its regiments and 
brigades were mustered out by the shot and shell of our victo- 
rious armies. They never pulled down the Confederate govern- 
ment, but its blazing rafters fell amidst the conflagration of war, 
and its ashes were scattered by the whirlwind of battle. 

And now, fellow-citizens, after the completest victory ever 
won by human valor, — a victory for the Union which was all 
victory and no concession, — after a defeat of the Rebels, which 
was all defeat and no surrender, — we arc asked to listen to the 
astonishing proposition that this war had no results beyond the 
mere fact of victory. A great political party is asking the suf- 
frages of the people in support of the unutterably atrocious 
assertion that these red-handed and vanquished traitors have 


lost no rights or privileges by their defeat, and the victors have 
acquired no rights over traitors and treason as the fruit of their 
victory ! These antediluvian philosophers seem to have turned 
down a leaf in the record of the life of the republic in April, 
1861, and they propose now, in the year of grace 1866, to begin 
again where they ceased reading five years ago, as if there had 
been no crime, no treason, no deluge of blood, no overthrow of 
rebellion, no triumph of liberty. Fellow-citizens, who are the 
men that advocate this monstrous doctrine? I cannot answer 
this question without discussing freely the public conduct of 
the President of the United States. 

For the first eight months after the collapse of the Rebellion, 
I did not hear that any man making the smallest claim to loy 
alty presumed to deny the right of the government to impose 
conditions upon the States and people lately in rebellion. Cer- 
tainly the President did not. Both in his executive acts and in 
repeated declarations, he affirmed again and again the right of 
the government to demand security for the future, — to require 
the performance of certain acts on the part of the Rebel States 
as preliminary to restoration. 

You will remember, fellow-citizens, that when I addressed 
you in the spring of 1865, shortly after the assassination of 
President Lincoln, I expressed the belief that Andrew Johnson 
would treat traitors with the severity their crimes demanded. 
There was a general apprehension that he might be too severe, 
and demand conditions so hard as to make the restoration of 
the Rebel States a work of great difficulty. It was said that he 
knew from personal experience what the Rebellion was, and 
what treatment treason deserved. The American people re- 
membered his repeated declarations on this whole subject. 
They remembered his bold speech at Nashville, on the 9th of 
June, 1864, when he accepted the nomination for the Vice- 
Presidency, and used the following language : — 

"Why all this carnage and devastation? It was that treason might be 
put down and traitors punished. Therefore, I say that traitors should 
take a back seat in the work of restoration. If there be but five thousand 
men in Tennessee loyal to the Constitution, loyal to freedom, loyal to 
justice, these true and faithful men should control the work of reorganiza- 
tion and reformation absolutely. I say that the traitor has ceased to be 
a citizen, and in joining the Rebellion has become a public enemy. He 
forfeited his right to vote with loyal men when he renounced his citizen- 


ship and sought to destroy our government My judgment is that 

he should be subjected to a severe ordeal before he is restored to citi- 
zenship Ah ! these Rebel leaders have a strong personal reason 

for holding out to save their necks from the halter ; and these leaders 
must feel the power of the. government. Treason must be made odious, 
and traitors must be punished and impoverished. Their great planta- 
tions must be seized and divided into small farms, and sold to honest, in- 
dustrious men. The day for protecting the lands and negroes of these 
authors of the Rebellion is past." ^ 

They remembered his speeches at Washington after his in- 
auguration, in which the same sentiments were repeated. They 
remembered that in his address to Governor Morton and the 
Indiana delegation, on the 21st of April, 1865, six days after 
the pistol of Booth made him President of the United States, he 
said : — 

" It is not promulgating anything that I have not heretofore said, to 
say that traitors must be made odious, that treason must be made odious, 
that traitors must be punished and impoverished. They must not only 
be punished, but their social power must be destroyed. If not, they 
will still maintain an ascendency, and may again become numerous and 
powerful ; for, in the words of a former Senator of the United States, 
* when traitors become numerous enough, treason becomes respectable.* 
And I say that, after making treason odious, every Union man and the 
government should be remunerated out of the pockets of those who have 
inflicted this great suffering upon the country Some time the re- 
bellion may go on increasing in numbers till the State machinery is over- 
turned, and the country becomes like a man that is paralyzed on one 
side. But we find in the Constitution a great panacea provided. It 
provides that the United States (that is, the great integer) shall guarantee 
to each State (the integers composing the whole) in this Union a repub- 
lican form of government. Yes, if rebellion had been rampant, and set 
aside the machinery of a State for a time, there stands the great law to 
remove the paralysis, and revitalize it, and put it on its feet again." ^ 

It is true, however, that there were even then those who ex- 
pressed doubts of his sincerity, and feared he would betray his 
trust. When, during the months of May, June, and July, 1865, 
they saw him appointing Provisional Governors for seven of 
the Rebel States, and ordering the assembling of conventions 
to form new constitutions and rebuild their State governments, 
many thought he should have called upon Congress to assemble 
and perform the duty enjoined upon it in the Constitution of 

* McPhcrson's History of Reconstruction, pp. 46, 47, note. ^ ibid., pp. 45, 46. 


guaranteeing to every State in the Union a republican form of 
government. But the confidence of the people was kept alive 
by his repeated declarations to the Governors and conventions 
that his work was only provisional, and must all be submitted 
to Congress for its action. 

On the 29th of May, 1865, he published his amnesty procla- 
mation, and on the same day appointed William W. Holdcn 
Provisional Governor of North Carolina. In the proclamation of 
appointment he declared that whereas " the Constitution of the 
United States declares that the United States shall guarantee .to 
every State in the Union a republican form of government, .... 
and whereas the Rcbellicn has in its rezwliiiionary progress de- 
prived the people of the State of North Carolina of all civil govern- 
mcnty' he therefore appointed William W. Holden Provisional 
Governor, " with authority to exercise within the limits of said 
State all the powers necessary and proper to enable such loyal 
people of North Carolina to restore said State to its constitu- 
tional relations to the Federal government, and to present such 
a republican form of State government as will entitle the State 
to the guaranty of the United States therefor, and its people to 
protection by the United States." ^ On the same terms seven 
other Governors were appointed. On the 12th of September, 
the Secretary of State, by direction of the President, wrote to 
Governor Marvin, of Florida, a letter, which concluded in these 
words: "It must, however, be distinctly understood that the 
restoration to which your proclamation refers will be subject to 
the decision of Congress." ^ 

But the confidence of the people did not rest solely upon the 
fact that the President held that all his work was provisional, 
and must be referred to Congress for its final settlement. Their 
confidence was still further strengthened by his repeated official 
declarations that guaranties must be demanded of the Rebel 
States before they could be restored to their practical relations 
to the Union. 

On the 28th of October, the Secretary of State wrote to the 
Provisional Governor of Georgia as follows : ** The President 
of the United States cannot recognize the people of any State as 
having resumed the relations of loyalty to the Union that ad- 
mits as legal, obligations contracted or debts created in their 
name to promote the war of the Rebellion." ^ 

1 McPherson's History of Reconstruction, p. 11. a Ibid., p. 25. 

8 Ibid., p. 21. 


On the 1st of November, he wrote to the Provisional Gov- 
ernor of Florida the following : " Your letter of October 7 was 
received and submitted to the President. He is gratified with the 
favorable progress toward reorganization in Florida, and directs 
me to say that he regards the ratification by the legislature of 
the Congressional Amendment [Thirteenth] of the Constitution 
of the United States as indispensable to a successful restora- 
tion of the true legal relations between Florida and the other 
States, and equally indispensable to the return of peace and 
harmony throughout the republic." ^ 

On the 6th of November he wrote to the Provisional Gover- 
nor of South Carolina these words : ** Your despatch to the Pres- 
ident, of November 4, has been received. He is not entirely sat- 
isfied with the explanations it contains. He deems necessary the 
passage of adequate ordinances declaring that all insurrectionary 
proceedings in the State were unlawful and void ab initio^ ^ 

In these utterances the President had plainly demanded at 
least three conditions indispensable to restoration : — 

1st. That the Rebel States should declare their ordinances of 
secession void ab initio, 

2d. That they should ratify the Constitutional Amendment 
abolishing slavery. 

3d. That they should repudiate the Rebel debt, and that their 
whole conduct in the premises should be referred to Congress 
for its action. 

But during the months of autumn there were rumors in the 
air which troubled the peace of patriotic citizens. It was whis- 
pered that the President was going over to our political enemies. 
It was observed that the tone of the Democratic and Rebel 
press had wonderfully changed toward him. P>om the begin- 
ning of the war till the summer of 1865, Southern traitors and 
Northern Democrats had vied with each other in their denun- 
ciation of his public acts, — of his political and private charac- 
ter. The Rebels had all along denounced him as a renegade, a 
traitor to his country, a low-born boor ; while Northern Demo- 
cratic journals, like the New York World, had denounced him 
as a turncoat, a tyrant, a boorish tailor, a drunken brute, less 
respectable than Nero's horse. But as the fall elections of 1865 
approached, they began to speak of him as an old-fashioned 
Democrat who had not forgotten the lessons of his youth, and 

1 McPhcrson's History of Reconstruction, p. 25. ^ Ibid., p. 23. 


who would yet turn his back upon the Union party, and return 
to the embrace of his former friends. The people were alarmed 
at these manifestations, but were somewhat reassured by the 
declarations of the President made to Major George L. Stearns 
on the 3d of October, when he said : — 

" The power of those persons who made the attempt [at rebellion] 
has been crushed, and now we want to reconstruct the State govern- 
ments and have the power to do it. The. State institutions are prostrated, 
laid out on the ground, and they must be taken up and adapted to the 

progress of events We must not be in too much of a hurry. It 

is better to let them reconstruct themselves than to force them to it; 
for if they go wrong the power is in our hands, and we can check them 

in any stage tp the end, and oblige them to correct their errors 

In Tennessee I should try to introduce negro suffrage gradually ; first, 
those who have served in the army, those who could read and write, and 
perhaps a property qualification for others, say $200 or I250." ^ 

When Congress met, in December last, there was great anx- 
iety and no little alarm. From the first hour of the session, the 
little junto of Rebel sympathizers known as the Democratic 
party in Congress became the eulogists and defenders of the 
President. Their denunciations of the Union party echoed fa- 
miliarly as of old through the halls of the Capitol ; but their 
censures were turned to praises, their curses to blessings, when 
they spoke of the President elected by the Union party. 

But even then we did not lose all our faith in Andrew Johnson. 
Mis annual message, though carefully worded, reiterated many of 
his former declarations, and the most radical men in Congress 
thanked him, and took new courage. In that message he said : — 

" It is not too much to ask, in the name of the whole people, that on 
the one side the pkm of restoration shall proceed in conformity with a 
willingness to cast the disorders of the past into oblivion ; and that, on 
the other, the evidence of sincerity in the future maintenance of the 
Union shall be put beyond any doubt by the ratification of the proposed 
amendment to the Constitution, which provides for the abolition of slav- 
ery forever within the limits of our country. So long as the adoption of 
this amendment is delayed, so long will doubt and jealousy and uncer- 
tainty prevail Indeed, it is not too much to ask of the States which 

are now resuming their places in the family of the Union to give this 
pledge of perpetual loyalty and peace. Until it is done, the past, how- 
ever much we may desire it, will not be forgotten.** ^ 

1 McPherson's History of Reconstruction, p. 49. ^ ibij., p. 65. 


But hardly was the printer's ink dry on the pages of the 
message, when the President began to insist on the immediate 
admission of representatives from the Rebel States. In this 
demand he was clamorously seconded by the Democrats in Con- 
gress, by every Democratic orator and editor in the North, and 
by every Rebel of the South. Let it be remembered that the 
demand was made for months before even Andrew Johnson 
claimed that the Rebellion was legally ended. It was not until 
the 2d of April, 1866, that he declared by proclamation that 
the Rebellion had ceased in ten of the States ; and even then 
he did not consider it ended in Texas. It was not until the 
meeting of the Philadelphia Convention, two weeks ago, that 
he declared the Rebellion suppressed in that State. 

Who were those representatives for whom admittance into 
Congress was demanded ? Of the eighty- seven elected from 
Rebel States, not ten ever made professions of loyalty. Fifteen 
had been generals or colonels in the Rebel army, or members of 
the Rebel Congress, or of Secession conventions. 

The President did not long leave us in doubt. In his address 
to a Rebel delegation from Virginia, on the loth of February, 
1866, he intimated his purpose of uniting with them, and with 
them sweeping round the circle of the Union, and putting down 
certain Radicals, whose policy he denounced as " a rebellion at 
the other end of the line." On the 22d of February, he ad- 
dressed a vast concourse of Northern Democrats, of Rebels in 
Confederate gray, and of Secession sympathizers who had never 
been out of their holes to bask in the sunshine of Presidential 
favor since Buchanan betrayed his country, all of whom had 
assembled to thank him for having refused to give military pro- 
tection to the frecdmen of the South. His utterances in that 
speech are only too well remembered ; I shall not repeat them 

Congress then undertook to extend the protection of the civil 
courts over the black loyalists. The President refused his sig- 
nature, but your loyal representatives were able to pass it over 
his head. About the same time the men of Connecticut were 
struggling to elect, as their Governor, a gallant soldier who had 
fought for the Union with distinguished honor from the begin- 
ning to the end of the war. He was opposed by the whole 
strength of that Rebel-loving Democracy, headed by Eaton and 
Toucey, whose " bad eminence " is a part of the history of the 


Rebellion. A Democratic member of the Thirty-eighth Con- 
gress was their candidate for Governor, and Andrew Johnson 
threw the weight of his great patronage into the scale, recom- 
mended the Federal office-holders to work for English, and 
sent a score of his new-found friends from Washington to 
urge the people to defeat the Union general. Thanks to the 
loyalty of the people of Connecticut, they were able to defeat 
both President and Democracy, and General Hawley was made 
Governor by a few hundred votes. 

The true men of the Cabinet still remained in their places, in 
the faint hope that he might yet come back to the party. But 
Andrew Johnson was content with no half-way measure. He 
resolved on nothing less than the defeat and overthrow of the 
Union party. By the aid of a Senator and an ex-Governor of 
Wisconsin,^ who had been repudiated by the loyal men of the 
State, a call was issued on the 27th of June for a general con- 
vention of those who would indorse the President, to meet in 
Philadelphia on the i6th of August. This call was indorsed by 
the forty-five Democratic members of Congress, including such 
patriots as Garrett Davis of Kentucky, Ross of Illinois, Rogers 
of New Jersey, and Finck and Le Blond of Ohio. When the 
Cabinet officers were asked to join in the movement, Dennison, 
Harlan, and Speed responded by denouncing the convention, 
and sending in their resignations. 

The convention assembled in full force, and under rules as 
rigid and with order and harmony as perfect as ever obtained 
under the discipline of the Ohio penitentiary, it has given us 
the results of its labors in a decalogue of ** principles " and an 
address of four newspaper columns, which must now be re- 
garded as the latest version of the President's Rebel Democratic 
policy. To understand the policy which the nation is now in- 
vited to adopt, it will be necessary to examine somewhat the 
parties that composed and the purposes which inspired the Phil- 
adelphia Convention. Three classes made up the assemblage. 

First, the unwashed, unanointed, unforgiven, unrepentant, un- 
hung Rebels of the South. They were represented by such 
politicians as the Rebel Vice-President, lately called from the 
casements of Fort Warren by his admiring constituents, to rep- 
resent them in the Senate of the United States; by such gallant 
generals as Dick Taylor, who, when his brigade had captured in 

1 J. R. Doolittle and A. W. RandaH. 


battle seven Union men that had escaped the rebel conscription 
in Louisiana, and had joined a Vermont regiment to fight for 
the Union, compelled them to dig their own graves, and then 
ordered them shot in his presence ; by such clergymen as the 
Rev. Jesse B. Ferguson, who, years ago (possibly in antici- 
pation of the wants of his brother Champ, lately hanged in 
Nashville for twenty Union murders) proclaimed a post 7uoricm 
gospel, glad tidings for the dead and damned, — who gave the 
weight of his ministerial character to aid in the destruction of 
the Union, and now speaks touchingly of the " lost cause " ; and 
last, but not least, by Governor Orr, who taught the blessed les- 
son that, if South Carolina would join the arm-in-arm embrace 
of Massachusetts, she must first slaughter twenty-five thousand 
sons of the Bay State. This first class formed the great, dumb, 
heroic element of the convention. 

The second class was the dishonored, depraved, defeated 
remnant of Northern Democracy. The divine Fernando, the 
sainted martyr Vallandigham, the meek-eyed Ryndcrs, and the 
patriotic H. Clay Dean were there, and their past distinguished 
services in the cause of their country were equalled only by the 
self-sacrificing spirit by which they preserved the harmony of 
the convention. The part played by the Democracy in the con- 
vention was a humble one. They could not have looked upon 
their brother delegates from the South without feelings of rev- 
erence and admiration for the heroism wliich led them to do 
battle in the field to sustain a cause for which they themselves 
had dared to do no more than speak and vote and pray. 

Third, last and least, were all the apostate Union men who 
hunger and thirst after office and the spoils thereof, — who 
greedily gather up the crumbs that fall from the political 
table. This class was not the Lazarus of the convention, for 
though the Democracy did not hesitate to lick their sores 
and make them the chief managers, they still lacked the piety 
of the Jew. They are paupers, disinherited by the party of 
freedom, and are now begging their political bread from door 
to door. There were men whose presence in that convention 
was a painful surprise to their Union friends; men of whom 
higher and nobler things were expected ; men who had ser\ed 
with honor in the army of the Union. Let us hope that, when 
they see the company into which they have fallen, they will re- 
member the holy cause for which they have fought, and retrace 


their unfortunate steps. Such was the convention and such the 
men by whom and through whom the President proposes to 
settle the great questions now pending before the nation. 

And now let us examine its doctrines. The leading thought 
which inspired all the declarations of the convention was uttered 
by Alexander H. Stephens, late Vice-President of the Confeder- 
acy, and by Thomas Ewing, Vice-President of the Philadelphia 
Convention. Mr. Stephens said, in his evidence before a commit- 
tee of Congress, given three months ago : " Georgia will accept 
no conditions of restoration. She claims to come back with her 
privilege of representation unimpaired." While the Philadelphia 
Convention was assembling, Mr. Ewing said : ** Even in the heat 
and violence of the Rebellion, the States in which Rebel violence 
most prevailed were each and all of them, as States, entitled to 
their representation in the two Houses of Congress." This, I 
say, was the central thought in the convention, and even the 
accomplished acrobat of the New York Times, though he waded 
knee-deep in words through his four-column address, was not 
able to sink it out of sight. In their ** declaration of principles" 
it is expressly affirmed that the war " left the rights and author- 
ity of the States free and unimpaired ; that neither Congress nor 
the President has any power to question their right to represen- 
tation." Planting themselves on this doctrine, they ask that the 
people elect to the Fortieth Congress only those who acknowl- 
edge the unqualified right of the Rebel States to immediate 
representation. They also ask the President to use his vast 
official patronage to secure this result. 

F'reighted with its proceedings, a committee of this mongrel 
convention repaired to Washington, and in the east room of 
the White House enacted the farce of delivering them to the 
President. He indorsed the doctrines of the convention, and 
then gave utterance to a sentiment so reckless and revolutionary 
as to create the profoundest alarm among loyal men. The 
Democratic and Rebel journals have for months been denoun- 
cing Congress as an illegal body, a revolutionary rump, and have 
demanded their dispersion by force. Alexander H. Stephens 
expressed the opinion that the acts of this Congress are illegal, 
because the Rebel States are not represented. Garrett Davis 
expressed the same opinion in the Senate, and appealed to the 
President to disperse it and recognize the Rebel and Democratic 
members as the Concrress of the United States. But all these 


suggestions were regarded as the insane ravings of men blinded 
by partisan fury. But here, in a speech made by appointment 
to a committee whose plans and purposes he noj only knew, 
but had helped to form, Andrew Johnson used this language : 
"We have seen hanging upon the verge of the government, as 
it were, a body called, or which assumes to be, the Congress of 
the United States, while in fact it is a Congress of only a part 
of the States." Who is the "government" upon the "verge" 
of which the President declares the Congress of the United 
States " hangs" as an unlawful appendage? We had supposed 
that the government of the United States consisted of the su- 
preme power of the people, vested in the legislative, judicial, 
and executive departments ; but he speaks of the Thirty-ninth 
Congress as a body " called " or " assumed to be the Congress 
of the United States." If these words have any meaning, they 
mean that the President regards your Congress as an unlawful 
assembly; and if he has the courage to act up to his convictions, 
he will take the advice of his Rebel and Democratic friends and 
disperse it when it again convenes, as he and his Southern allies 
dissolved the New Orleans convention in blood. It is possible 
that we are to have a rebellion, not " on the other end of the 
line," but in the centre, — in the sacred citadel of the nation. 
It is possible that he intends to fulfil his promise to make 
treason " odious," by making himself the most conspicuous ex- 
ample of public treachery. Whatever be the President's mean- 
ing, the loyal people will not fail to remind him that he is not 
the controller of Congress, but the executor of the laws, and 
the same people who elevated him to his high place will, if 
justice and liberty require it, let fall on him a bolt of condem- 
nation which will settle forever the question that Presidents are 
the servants, not the masters, of the American people. 

And now let me examine the doctrine of the Philadelphia 
Convention, that " the war left the rights and authority of the 
Rebel States unimpaired." I meet this proposition with the 
undeniable fact, that, when the Confederacy fell, the authority 
of the Rebel States was not only " impaired," but utterly over- 
thrown. I answer in the words of Andrew Johnson, "The Re- 
bellion deprived North Carolina of all civil government " ; and 
call attention to the fact, that he had appointed a provisional 
government " to aid in rebuilding a State government and re- 
storing North Carolina to her constitutional relations to the 


Union." I deny the assertion that representation is an inalien- 
able right I repudiate the atrocious doctrine that Rebels in 
arms are entitled to a voice in the government which they are 
fighting at the same time to destroy. While the Rebel army 
was in winter quarters recruiting for the next campaign, Lee 
and Johnston, Breckinridge and Bragg, Taylor and Forrest, 
might have taken seats in Congress, or if not these, then others 
who had never been brave enough to take such public part in 
the Rebellion as to prevent their taking the test oath; and 
then this might have added enough votes to the Democratic 
strength in the Thirty-eighth Congress to control the action of 
that body, and assure the success of the Rebellion. 

I do not adopt the doctrine that the Rebel States were out 
of the* Union; but I hold, in the language of Abraham Lincoln, 
that " by the Rebellion they destroyed their practical relations 
to the Union." They did not relieve themselves from their ob- 
ligations to the Union, but by treason and war they forfeited 
their rights to life and property. It was for the victorious 
government to say what mercy should be extended, what rights 
should be restored. 

It is the duty of the Congress of the United States, enjoined 
by the Constitution, " to guarantee to every State in this Union 
a republican form of government." For the correctness of this 
position, I appeal to the solemn decision of the Supreme Court 
in the case of the Dorr rebellion, in 1842. 

" Under this article of the Constitution, it rests with Congress to de- 
cide what government is the established one in a State. For as the 
United States guarantee to each State a republican government, Congress 
must necessarily decide what government is established in the State be- 
fore it can determine whether it is republican or not. And when the 
Senators and Representatives of a State are admitted into the councils 
of the Union, the authority of the government under which they are 
appointed, as well as its republican character, is recognized by the proper 
constitutional authority. And its decision is binding on every other de- 
partment of the government Unquestionably, a military govern- 
ment, cstv'il)lishod as the permanent government of the State, would not 
be a rei;)ublican government, and it would be the duty of Congress to 
overthrow it." ^ 

I answer the doctrine of the Philadelphia Convention by the 
fact that the President demanded three preliminary conditions 

1 7 Howard, 42, 45. 


as indispensable to his recognition of the Rebel States to repre- 
sentation in Congress. He demanded, — 

1st. That these States should declare all their acts of Seces- 
sion void from the beginning. 

2d. That they should ratify the Constitutional Amendment 
abolishing slavery. 

3d. That they should repudiate all their debts contracted to 
support the Rebellion. 

The Philadelphia Convention says that representation is an 
inalienable right, which the war did not impair. If this be true, 
the President is condemned for imposing conditions. 

But it may be claimed that the three conditions have been 

complied with, that State governments have been established in 

all the eleven States, and that Congress should have recognized 

the fact I answer that, with the single exception of Tennessee, 

not one of the constitutions of these States has been ratified 

by the people of the States, or even submitted to them. Can 

^at be called a republican government of a State which was 

framed by a convention of pardoned Rebels under the dicta- 

^^on of a military governor and the commander-in-chief of the 

^'"rnies of the United States? But even if these governments 

^*'ore lawful and republican in every respect, have the condi- 

^'^^ns which the President demanded been so secured as to be- 

c^rne *' irreversible guaranties"? 

It is said that the legislatures have repudiated the Rebel 

"^VdIs. May they not, a year hence, repeal the acts of repu- 

^io^tion? It is said that the Civil Rights Bill is now a law, 

^^d will give the freedmen adequate protection. Who docs not 

^How that the President who vetoed, and his Democratic allies 

^^'bo voted against the bill, will hasten to repeal it if they ever 

regain the power in Congress? We will accept no securities 

^vhich are based solely on the promises of perjured traitors. We 

will accept as the basis of our future peace no mere acts or 

resolves of Rebel convocations or Rebel legislatures. The 

guaranties which the loyal millions of the republic demand 

as conditions of restoration must be lifted above the reach 

of traitors and Rebel States, and imbedded forever in the 

imperishable bulwarks of the Constitution ; therefore, their 

loyal representatives in the Thirty-ninth Congress proposed 

an amendment to the Constitution, which, adopted by three 

fourths of the States, will make liberty and union secure for 


the future. They have proposed that it shall be a part of the 
Constitution, — 

1st. That no State shall deny any person within its jurisdic- 
tion the equal protection of the laws. 

2d. That the representation of any State in Congress shall 
be determined by the ratio which the male inhabitants of sucli 
State, being twenty-one years of age and citizens of the United 
States, who are entitled by the laws thereof to vote, bears to 
the whole number of such citizens in the State. So that just in 
proportion as the right of suffrage is extended to the male citi- 
zens twenty-one years of age and citizens of the United States, 
or is restricted, shall the representation be increased or dimin- 

3d. That no person shall hold any office, civil or military, 
under the United States, or under any State, who, having pre- 
viously taken an oath as an officer of the United States, or a 
legislative, executive, or judicial officer of a State, to support 
the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in 
insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or com- 
fort to the enemies thereof; but Congress may, by a vote of 
two thirds of each House, remove such disability. 

4th. The public debt of the United States shall never be re- 
pudiated, and the Rebel debt shall never be paid. 

5th. Congress shall have power to enforce these provisions 
by appropriate legislation. 

These propositions appeal to the common and moral sense 
of the nation, as every way worthy to become a part of our fun- 
damental law. They are conditions with which any State lately 
in rebellion can comply without humiliation or disgrace; which 
no State, if sincere in its professions of returning loyalty, would 
hesitate to adopt. These conditions were cheerfully adopted b)* 
the loyal men of Tennessee, though the President, seconded by 
the Rebels in that State, made every possible eftbrt to prevent 
it, and Congress immediately declared that State entitled to 
representation, and the members elect were admitted to their 
seats. These conditions embraced in the Constitutional Amend- 
ment, and proposed to the late Rebel States, form the Congres- 
sional policy. Whenever any other of the sinful eleven complies 
with the same conditions, it can come in as did Tennessee. 

And now, fellow-citizens, the two policies are before you. It 
is for you to determine which shall be adopted as the basis of 


restoration and peace. In the settlement of these great issues, 
you must vote with one of two parties, for there can be no third 
party. The President has joined the Democratic party, and 
that has joined with the Rebels of the South. The great Union 
party and its glorious army kept the two parties apart for four 
years and a half; we fired bullets to the front and ballots to the 
rear; we conquered them both in the field and at the polls; 
but now that our army is withdrawn, the two wings are reunited. 
They joined in Philadelphia, and Andrew Johnson is their leader. 
The great Union party now stands face to face with the motley 
crew. With which will you cast in your lot, fellow-citizens? 

Remember the noble history of the Union party. No party 
ever had so proud a record. The Union party saved the repub- 
lic from the most powerful and bloody conspiracy ever formed 
since Satan fell from heaven. It broke the shackles from the 
limbs of four million slaves, and redeemed the fair fame of the 
nation. It carried its arms to victory on a thousand battle- 
fields. It scattered every army that bore a Rebel banner. It 
has enrolled among its members the old Republican party of 
freedom; all the loyal Democrats who followed pouglas, or 
loved their country more than their party ; all the soldiers who 
suflfered and conquered. The tvvo hundred and fifty thousand 
heroes who fell on the field of honor were Union men, and, 
could they rise from their bloody graves to-day, would vote 
with the Union party. 

The Democratic party is composed of all who conspired to 
destroy the republic, and of all those who fought to make 
treason triumphant. It broke ten thousand oaths, and to its 
perjury added murder, starvation, and assassination. It de- 
clared through its mouthpieces in Ohio, in 1861, that if the 
Union men of Ohio should ever attempt to enter a South- 
ern State to suppress the Rebellion by arms, they must first 
pass over the dead bodies of two hundred thousand Ohio 
Democrats. In the mid-fury of the struggle it declared the 
war a failure, and demanded a cessation of hostilities. In the 
Democratic party is enrolled every man who led a Rebel army 
or voluntarily carried a Rebel musket ; every man who resisted 
the draft, who called the Union soldiers ** Lincoln's hirelings," 
" negro worshippers," or any other vile name. Booth, Wirz, 
Harold, and Payne were Democrats. Every Rebel guerilla and 
jay hawker, every man who ran to Canada to avoid the draft, 

VOL. L 16 


eveiy bounty-jumper, every deserter, every cowardly sneak that 
ran from danger and disgraced his flag, every man who loves 
slavery and hates liberty, every man who helped massacre loyal 
negroes at Fort Pillow, or loyal whites at New Orleans, every 
Knight of the Golden Circle, every incendiary who helped burn 
Northern steamboats and Northern hotels, and every villain, of 
whatever name or crime, who loves power more than justice, 
slavery more than freedom, is a Democrat and an indorser of 
Andrew Johnson. 

Fellow-citizens, I cannot doubt the issue of such a contest. 
I have boundless faith in the lo3ral people, and I beseech you, 
by all the proud achievements of the past five years, by the 
immortal memories of the heroic dead, by the love you bore to 
the starved and slaughtered thousands who perished for their 
country and are sleeping in unknown graves, by all the high 
and holy considerations of loyalty, justice, and truth, to pause 
not in the work you have begun till the Union, crowned with 
victory and established by justice, shall enter upon its high 
career of freedom and peace. 




The scheme of Reconstruction proposed by the joint committee of the 
two houses consisted of the Fourteenth Amendment, and two bills, enti- 
tled, " A Bill to provide for restoring the States lately in Insurrection to 
their full Political Rights," and " A Bill declaring certain Persons ineli- 
gible to Office under the Government of the United States." The first 
of these bills proposed that whenever the Fourteenth Amendment should 
become part of the Constitution of the United States, and any State lately 
in insurrection should have ratified the same, and should have modified 
its Constitution and laws in conformity therewith, the Senators and Rep- 
resentatives from such State, if found duly elected and qualified, might 
after having taken the required oaths of office, be admitted into Congress 
as such. The other bill requires no analysis. Neither one of these bills 
was voted upon. Accordingly, the Fourteenth Amendment alone was the 
Congressional plan of reconstruction, in 1866 ; and, as Mr. Garfield states 
in several of his speeches, the State political campaigns of that year were 
conducted by the Republicans upon that platform. 

In the mean time the Amendment had gone to the States for their 
action. When Congress met in December, 1866, this was the view pre- 
sented : all of the Rebel States but Tennessee had rejected the Amend- 
ment ; Delaware, Maryland, and Kentucky had likewise rejected it ; 
twenty-one States had ratified it, and three had taken no action. The 
States lately in rebellion took their action, as Mr. Garfield says more than 
once, under the lead of President Johnson, and by the consent of the 
Democratic party. More than a year before, the States had been " re- 
constructed '* according to the ideas of the President, and fully organized 
and equipped. State governments were now in existence and in opera- 
tion in all those States. 

ITie next step that the Republicans took was to bring forward and 
carry through Congress the so-called " Military Reconstruction Meas- 
ures " ; namely, " An Act to provide for the more efficient Government 
of the Rebel States," March 2, 1867, and the "Supplemental Recon- 


struction Act," March 23, 1867. These acts, both of which were carried 
over the President's veto, swept away the so-called State governments in 
the ten States, divided them up into military districts, each under a gen- 
eral of the United States army, established a military government, and 
made the restoration of the States conditional upon the ratification of 
the Fourteenth Amendment, and the acceptance, so far as the ten States 
were concerned, of negro suffrage. These acts, together with the various 
supplemental acts passed from time to time, contain the plan upon which 
the reconstruction of the ten States was finally effected. 

The Reconstruction Act proper, March 2, 1867, entitled, "An Act to 
provide for the more efficient Government of the Rebel States," having 
declared in its preamble that " no legal State government, or adequate 
protection for life or property, now exists in the Rebel States of Virginia, 
North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisi- 
ana, Florida, Texas, and Arkansas," and that " it is necessary that peace 
and good order should be enforced in said States until loyal and republi- 
can State governments can be legally established," went on to enact : 
(i.) "That said Rebel States shall be divided into [five] military dis- 
tricts and made subject to the military authority of the United States." 
(2.) That the President shall "assign to the command of each of said 
districts an officer of the army not below the rank of brigadier-gen- 
eral," to be supported by a sufficient military force. (3.) That it shall 
be the duty of said officer " to protect all persons in their rights of per- 
son and property, to suppress insurrection, disorder, and violence," etc. 
(4.) That all persons put under mihtary arrest shall " be tried without 
unnecessary delay, and no cruel or unusual punishment be inflicted." 
(5.) "That when the people of any one of said Rebel States shall have 
formed a constitution of government in conformity with the Constitution 
of the United States in all respects, .... and when such constitution 
shall be ratified, .... and when such constitution shall have been sub- 
mitted to Congress for examination and approval, and Congress shall 
have approved the same, and when said State, by a vote of its legislature 
elected under said constitution, shall have adopted the amendment to 
the Constitution of the United States proposed by the Thirty-ninth Con- 
gress, and known as Article Fourteen, and when said article shall have 
become a part of the Constitution of the United States, said State shall 
be declared entitled to representation in Congress, and Senators and 
Representatives shall be admitted therefrom on their taking the oaths pre- 
scribed by law, and then and thereafter the preceding sections of this 
act shall be inoperative in said State." (6.) " That until the people of 
said Rebel States shall be by law admitted to representation in the Con- 
gress of the United States, any civil governments which may exist therein 
shall be deemed provisional only." Such was the framework of this law : 
the provisions concerning the qualifications of delegates and of electors 


for delegates to the State conventions will be given after an analysis of the 
act of March 27. 

The Supplemental Act prescribed the minor steps to be taken by the 
States in carrying out the plan, (i.) That by September i, 1867, the gen- 
eral commanding iti any district shall cause the qualified voters in the 
States composing his district to be registered. (2.) That in each State, 
after thirty days' public notice, "an election shall be held of delegates to 
a convention for the purpose of establishing a constitution and civil gov- 
ernment for such State loyal to the Union." (3.) That the question of 
holding a convention, as well as the election of delegates, shall be submit- 
ted to the registered voters, and that a majority of those voting 'shall de- 
cide whether a convention shall be called or not, " Provided^ that such 
convention shall not be held unless a majority of all such registered voters 
shall have voted on the question of holding such convention." (4.) That 
if the vote be in the affirmative, the commanding general shall call the 
delegates together in convention within sixty days after the election, and 
said convention shall proceed to frame a constitution in harmony with 
the Reconstruction Acts, which constitution shall be submitted to the 
registered voters aforesaid for ratification. (5.) That if the constitution 
shall be ratified by a majority of those voting, " at least one half of all 
the registered voters voting upon the question of such ratification," said 
constitution shall be forwarded to the President of the United States, to 
be by him laid before Congress. (6.) That elections to carry out the 
act of March 2, 1867, shall be by ballot. 

These were the cardinal features of the Supplemental Act. The other 
features need not be mentioned, further than to say that the whole ma- 
chinery of conducting the elections — boards of registry, judges of elec- 
tions, canvassing, and returns — was in the sole control of the general 
commanding. There was considerable further supplementary legislation 
on these subjects, partly to make plain what was obscure, partly to meet 
new situations. For instance, it having been found difficult in some 
cases to obtain the vote required on the question of calling a convention, 
it was provided, March 11, 1868, that this question should "be decided 
by a majority of the votes actually cast." 

Such was the general reconstruction scheme as laid down in the Re- 
construction Acts. It is necessary now to go back and inquire how these 
acts constituted the State conventions. 

First, the Fourteenth Amendment, together with the act of March 2, 
fixed the qualifications of delegates to the constitutional convention. 
Section 3 of the amendment provided : " No person shaU be a Senator 
or Representative in Congress, or Elector of President and Vice-President, 
or hold any office, civil or militar\', under the United States, or under any 
State, who, having previously taken an oath as a member of Congress, or 
as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature. 


or as an executive or judicial officer of any State^ to support the Consti- 
tution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion 
against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But 
Congress may, by a vote of two thirds of each House, remove such disa- 
bility." And the act provided, " That no person excluded from the privi- 
lege of holding office by said proposed amendment to the Constitution of 
the United States shall be eligible to election as a member of the conven- 
tion to frame a constitution for any of said Rebel States, nor shall any 
such person vote for members of such convention." 

Second, the act of March 2, 1867, fixed the qualifications of electors 
for delegates to the conventions. The constitution in any State was to 
be '' framed by a convention of delegates elected by the male citizens of 
said State twenty-one years old and upward, of whatever race, color, or 
previous condition, who have been resident in said State for one year 
previous to the day of such election, except such as may be disfranchised 
for participation in the Rebellion, or for felony at common law." Fur- 
ther, the classes described in the third section of the Fourteenth Amend- 
ment were disfranchised so far as these elections for delegates were 
concerned : '* Nor shall any such person vote for members of such con- 
vention." They could be neither delegates nor electors of delegates. 
Still further, the commanding general in each district was required by 
the Supplemental Act of March 27, 1867, to '' cause a registration to be 
made of the male citizens of the United States, twenty-one years of age 
and upwards, resident in each county or parish of the State or States in- 
cluded in his district, which registration should include only those persons 
who are qualified to vote for delegates " by the act of March 2, " and 
who shall have taken and subscribed the following oath or affirmation : 

' I, , do solemnly swear (or affirm), in the presence of Almighty 

God, that I am a citizen of the State of ; that I have resided in 

said State for months next preceding this day, and now reside in the 

county of , or the parish of , in said State (as the case may be) ; 

that I am twenty-one years old ; that I have not been disfranchised for 
participation in any rebellion or civil war against the United States, nor for 
felony committed against the laws of any State or of the United States ; that 
I have never been a member of any State legislature, nor held any exec- 
utive or judicial office in any State and afterwards engaged in insurrec- 
tion or rebellion against the United States, or given aid or comfort to the 
enemies thereof; that I have never taken an oath as a member of Con- 
gress of the United States, or as an officer of the United States, or as a 
member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of 
any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, and after- 
wards engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or 
given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof; that I will faithfully support 
the Constitution and obey the laws of the United States, and will, to the 


best of my ability, encourage others so to do, so help me God.* " Again, 
according to the Supplemental Act, Section 4, only qualified electors for 
convention delegates could vote on the question of ratification, when the 
constitution was submitted to the people. " Said constitution shall be 
submitted by the convention for ratification to the persons registered 
under the provisions of this act, at an election to be conducted by the 
officers or persons appointed or to be appointed by the commanding 
general, or hereinbefore provided," etc. 

Third, the care of Congress did not stop even here. The act of March 2 
expressly stipulated that the constitution framed in any State " shall pro- 
vide that the elective franchise shall be enjoyed by all such persons as 
have the qualifications herein stated for electors of delegates." (Sec. 5.) 
The basis of suffrage could be widened but not narrowed. More persons 
could be allowed to vote, but those now allowed could not be denied. 
The disfranchising features of the Reconstruction Acts need not be con- 
tinued, but the grant of the ballot to non-disfiranchised male citizens 
" twenty-one years old and upwards, of whatever race, color, or previous 
condition," could not be withdrawn. No one can mistake the meaning 
of this clause : Congress had now granted the elective franchise to the 
negro, and was determined that neither State convention nor State legis- 
lature should work an exclusion. Until a State should grant the ballot to 
the freedmen, it would not be admitted to representation in Congress, and 
would not be held reconstructed. But beyond all this, the acts to admit 
the States to representation in Congress (see June 22 and June 25, 1868) 
imposed upon them " the fundamental condition," that the constitution 
of no one of them " should ever be so changed as to undo what had been 
done in harmony with the above-recited provisions in respect to making 
the suffrage independent of race, color, or previous condition." Beyond 
this, it was impossible that national legislation should go. In the Rebel 
States, therefore, there was no need of the Fifteenth Amendment, so far as 
gaining the suffrage of the black man was concerned. Nor was there any 
need, for this purpose, of the second section of the Fourteenth Amend- 
ment, which looked to gaining the suffrage by indirection. Hence, from 
this point of view, the Fifteenth Amendment was superior to the Four- 
teenth and to the Reconstruction Acts in these particulars. The first 
put in the Constitution what the last put only in a simple statute ; the 
first applied to all the States, the last only to those named jn the pream- 
ble of the Reconstruction Act ; the first did openly and directly what the 
last did in a roundabout manner. Except this guaranty to the colored 
man, the State conventions and legislatures were to manage the suffrage in 
their own way. Here it should be added that Congress paid no atten- 
tion to President Johnson, who all the time was issuing proclamations of 
amnesty, and granting pardons in harmony with his proclamation of May 
29, 1865. It should also be observed, that the disabilities imposed by the 


Fourteenth Amendment could be removed only by the national legisla- 
ture. " But Congress may, by a vote of two thirds of each house, remove 
such disability." 

At various stages of the reconstruction legislation, Mr. Garfield made 
the remarks that are here brought together. On the 8th of February, 
1867, he spoke as follows : — 

MR. SPEAKER, — In the short time allowed me I can say 
very little. But I desire to call the attention of the 
House to two or three points which, in my judgment, stand out 
prominently, and which should control our action upon this 

And, first, I call attention to the fact that, from the collapse 
of the Rebellion to the present hour, the Congress of the United 
States has undertaken to restore the States lately in rebellion 
by co-operation with their people, and that our efforts in that 
direction have proved a complete and disastrous failure. We 
commenced, sir, by waiving nine tenths of all the powers we had 
over these people, and adopting a policy most merciful and 
magnanimous. It was clearly the right of the victorious gov- 
ernment to indict, try, convict, and hang every rebel traitor in 
the South for his bloody conspiracy against the republic. In 
accordance with a law passed by the first Congress that met 
under the Constitution, and approved by Washington, wc might 
have punished with death by hanging every Rebel of the South. 
We might have confiscated the last dollar of the last Rebel to 
aid in paying the cost of the war. Or, adopting a more merci- 
ful policy, we might have declared that no man who voluntarily 
went into the Rebellion should ever again enjoy the rights of a 
citizen of the United States. They forfeited every right of citi- 
zenship by becoming traitors and public enemies. What the 
conquering sovereign would do with them was for Congress to 

Now, with all these powers in its hands. Congress resolved to 
do nothing for vengeance, but everything for liberty and safety. 
The representatives of the nation said to the people of the 
South, " Join with us in giving liberty and justice to that race 
which you have so long outraged, make it safe for free loyal 
men to live among you, bow to the authority of our common 
country, and we will forgive the carnage, the desolation, the 
losses, and the unutterable woes you have brought upon the 


nation, and you shall come back to your places in the Union 
with no other personal disability than this, — that your leaders 
shall not again rule us except by the consent of two thirds of 
both houses of Congress." That was the proposition which this 
Congress submitted at its last session ; and I am here to affirm 
to-day that so magnanimous, so merciful a proposition has never 
been submitted by a sovereignty to rebels since the day when 
God offered forgiveness to the fallen sons of men. 

The Fourteenth Amendment did not come up to the full 
height of the great occasion ; it did not meet all that I desired 
in the way of guaranties to liberty; but if all the Rebel States 
had adopted it as Tennessee did, I should have felt bound to let 
them in on the terms prescribed for Tennessee. I have also 
been in favor of waiting, to give them full time to deliberate and 
act. They have deliberated ; they have acted ; the last one of 
the sinful ten has at last, with contempt and scorn, flung back 
into our teeth the magnanimous offer of a generous nation ; 
and it is now our turn to act. They would not co-operate 
with us in rebuilding what they destroyed; we must remove 
the rubbish and rebuild from the bottom. Whether they are 
willing or not, we must compel obedience to the Union, and 
demand protection for its humblest citizen wherever the flag 
floats. We must so exert the power of the nation that it shall 
be deemed both safe and honorable to have been loyal in the 
midst of treason. We must see to it that the frightful carnival 
of blood now raging in the South shall continue no longer. We 
must make it possible for the humblest citizen of the United 
States — from whatever State he may come — to travel in safety 
from the Ohio River to the Gulf. In short, we must plant lib- 
erty on the ruins of slavery, and establish law and peace where 
anarchy and violence now reign. I believe, sir, the time has 
come when we must lay the heavy hand of military author- 
ity upon these Rebel communities, and hold them in its grasp 
till their madness is past, and until, clothed and in their right 
minds, they come bowing to the authority of the Union, and 
taking their places loyally in the family circle of the States. 

Now, Mr. Speaker, I am aware that this is a severe and strin- 
gent measure. I do not hesitate to say that I give my assent 
to its main features with many misgivings. I am not unmind- 
ful of the grave suggestions of the gentleman from New York,^ 

1 Mr. Raymond. 


in reference to the history of such legislation in other coun- 
tries and other ages ; I remember, too, that upon the walls of 
imperial Rome a Praetorian guard announced that the world was 
for sale, and that the legions knocked down the imperial purple 
to the highest bidder ; but I beg to remind the gentleman that 
this is not a proposition to commit the liberties of the republic 
into the hands of the military ; it is a new article of war, com- 
manding the army to return to its work of putting down the 
Rebellion, by maintaining the honor and keeping the peace 
of the nation. If the officers of our army should need such a 
suggestion, let them remember that no people on earth have 
shown themselves so able to pull down their idols as the Amer- 
ican people. However much honored and beloved a man may 
be, if the day ever comes when he shows himself untrue to lib- 
erty, they will pluck him out of their very hearts, and trample 
him indignantly under their feet. We have seen this in the mil- 
itary history of the last five years, and in the political history of 
the last campaign. 

Now, we propose for a short 'time to assign our army to this 
duty for specific and beneficent purposes ; namely, to keep the 
peace until we can exercise the high functions enjoined upon us 
in the Constitution, of giving to these States republican gov- 
ernments based upon the will of the whole loyal people. The 
generals of our army enjoy in a wonderful degree the confi- 
dence of the nation ; but if, for any cause, the most honored 
among them should lay his hands unlawfully upon the liberty 
of the humblest citizen, he would be trampled under the feet of 
millions of indignant freemen. We are not, as some gentlemen 
seem to suppose, stretching out helpless hands to the army for 
aid ; we are commanding them, as public servants, to do this 
work in the interest of liberty. 

I have spoken only of the general purpose of this bill. I 
now desire to say that I am not satisfied with the manner in 
which it is proposed to pass it through this House. I demand 
that it be opened for amendment, as well as for discussion. I 
will not consent that any one man or committee in this House 
shall frame a bill of this importance, and compel me to vote for 
or against it, without an opportunity to suggest amendments to 
its provisions. However unimportant my own opinions may 
be, other men shall not do my thinking for me. There are 
some words which I want stricken out of this bill, and some 


limitations I want added. I at least shall ask that they be con- 
sidered. I trust the gentleman who has the bill in charge will 
allow a full opportunity for amendment, and that the bill, prop- 
erly guarded, may become a law. 

On the 12th of February, Mr. Garfield spoke as follows, in reply to 
Mr. Harding, of Kentucky : — 

Mr. Speaker, — I would not ask the further attention of the 
House upon this subject, were it not that I find myself very se- 
riously misrepresented, here and elsewhere, in reference to my 
remarks on Friday last. I would not have the worst Rebel in 
the world suppose me capable of anything like malignity to- 
ward even him. I therefore take this occasion to contradict the 
representation made by the gentleman from Kentucky, (as I am 
informed, for I did not hear him myself,) that I had declared 
that, though I had hitherto been in favor of magnanimity to- 
ward the people of the South, I was now in favor of enforcing 
a bloodthirsty policy against them. I have never uttered such 
a sentiment. All that I did say was said directly and explicitly 
upon the single question of the Fourteenth Amendment as a 
basis of restoration. I did say the other day, and I say now, 
that if the amendment proposed at the last session of Con- 
gress had been ratified by all the States lately in rebellion, in 
the same way that Tennessee ratified it, and if those States 
had done all the other things that Tennessee did, I should 
have felt myself morally bound, (though it fell very far short 
of full justice and of my own views of good statesmanship,) 
and I believed the Thirty-ninth Congress would have been mor- 
ally bound, to admit every one of the Rebel States on the same 

Many members know that I have been opposed to taking fur- 
ther decisive action until every Rebel State had had full oppor- 
tunity to act upon the Amendment. Now that they have all 
rejected it, I consider their action as final, and say, as I said 
on Friday last, that that offer, as a basis of reconstruction, is 
forever closed so far as my vote is concerned. The time has 
come when we must protect the loyal men of the South ; the 
time has come when fruitless magnanimity to rebels is cruelty 


to our friends. No other victorious nation has ever so neglected 
its supporters. For a quarter of a century the British govern- 
ment gave special protection to the Tories of the American 
Revolution, paying them fifteen million dollars out of the royal 
treasury. What loyal man of any Rebel State, except Tennes- 
see, has been honored or defended by the Federal government ? 
It is a notorious fact, that it is both honorable and safe in the 
South to have been a Rebel, while it is both dangerous and dis- 
graceful for a Southerner to have been loyal to the Union. 
Loyal men are every day perishing as unavenged victims of 
Rebel malignity. I desire to say, also, that I am in favor of 
placing these States under military jurisdiction only as a tem- 
porary measure of protection, until republican governments can 
be organized, based upon the will of all the loyal people, with- 
out regard to race or color. 

Now, Mr. Speaker, as the gentleman from Kentucky volun- 
teered to read me a lecture on bloodthirstiness, and reminded 
me of the sinfulness of human nature as represented in myself, 
I will volunteer a few suggestions and reflections to him and the 
party with which he acts. I remind the gentleman that his 
party and the President who leads it have had it in their power 
any day during the last twenty-two months to close the bleed- 
ing wounds of this grievous war, and restore the States lately in 
rebellion to their proper places in the Union. I tell that gen- 
tleman that if, on any one day during the war, he and his party 
had risen up and said, honestly and unanimously, "We join the 
loyal men of the nation to put down the Rebellion," the war 
would not have lasted a twelvemonth. The army never feared 
the enemy in its front; it was the enemy in the rear, with their 
ballots and plots aj^ainst the Union and their sympathy with the 
Rebellion, which continued the war and wasted and desolated 
the land with blood and fire. That party is responsible for 
more of the carnage of the war than anybody else this side of 
the Rebels. 

But, sir, the gentleman and his party have made a record 
since the war ended. If the Democratic party, with the Pres- 
ident at its head, had, on any day since July last, advised the 
people of the South to accept the Fourteenth Amendment and 
come in as Tennessee did, it would have been done. I have 
information from a source entirely reliable, that but little more 
than one month ago Alabama was on the eve of accepting that 


Amendment when a telegram from Washington dissuaded her 
from doing so and led her rashly to reject it. Of all men on 
earth the gentleman and his party have the least right to preach 
the doctrine of mercy to this side of the House. That mercy 
which smiles only on murder, treason, and rebellion, and has 
only frowns for loyalty and patriotism, becomes the gentleman 
and his party. 

I cannot agree with all that has just been said by my friends 
on this side, that our own party in Congress have been so very 
virtuous and true to liberty. I cannot forget that we have 
learned very slowly ; I cannot forget that less than four years 
ago the proposition to allow negroes any share in putting down 
the Rebellion was received with alarm in this hall and even on 
this side of the House. I cannot forget that less than five years 
ago I received an order from my superior officer in the army 
commanding me to search my camp for a fugitive slave, and if 
found to deliver him up to a Kentucky captain, who claimed 
him as his property ; and I had the honor to be perhaps the 
first officer in the army who peremptorily refused to obey such 
an order. We were then trying to save the Union without 
hurting slavery. I remember, sir, that when we undertook to 
agitate in the army the question of putting arms into the hands 
of the slaves, it was said, " Such a step will be fatal, it will 
alienate half our army and lose us Kentucky." By and by, when 
our necessities were imperious, we ventured to let the negro dig 
in the trenches, but it would not do to put muskets into his 
hands. We ventured to let the negro drive a mule team, but it 
would not do to have a white man or a mulatto just in front of 
him or behind him ; all must be negroes in that train ; you must 
not disgrace a white soldier by putting him in such company. 
By and by some one said, " Rebel guerillas may capture the 
mules ; so for the sake of the mules let us put a few muskets in 
the wagons and let the negroes shoot the guerillas if they come." 
So for the sake of the mules wc enlarged the limits of liberty a 
little. By and by we allowed the negroes to build fortifications 
and armed them to save the earthworks they had made, — not 
to do justice to the negro, but to protect the earth he had 
thrown up. By and by wc said in this hall that we would arm 
the negroes, but they must not be called soldiers nor wear the 
national uniform, for that would degrade white soldiers. By 
and by we said, " Let them wear the uniform, but they must 


not receive the pay of soldiers." For six months we did not 
pay them enough to feed and clothe them ; and their shattered 
regiments came home from South CaroHna in debt to the gov- 
ernment for the clothes they wore. It took us two years to 
reach a point where we were willing to do the most meagre jus- 
tice to the black man, and to recognize the truth that — 

" A man's a man for a* that.** 

It will not do for our friends on this side to boast even of the 
early virtues of the Thirty-ninth Congress. I remember very 
well, Mr. Speaker, during the last session, that forty of us tried 
to bring the issue of manhood suffrage before Congress. Our 
friends said, " You are impracticable ; you will be beaten at the 
polls if you go before the people on that issue ; make haste 
slowly." Let us not be too proud of what we did at the last 
session. For my part, I am heartily ashamed of our short- 
comings and the small measure of justice we meted out to our 
best friends in the South. 

But, sir, the hand of God has been visible in this work, lead- 
ing us by degrees out of the blindness of our prejudices to see 
that the fortunes of the Republic and the safety of the party of 
liberty are inseparably bound up with the rights of the black 
man. At last our party must see that, if it would preserve its 
political life, or maintain the safety of the Republic, we must 
do justice to the humblest man in the nation, whether black or 
white. I thank God that to-day we have struck the rock ; we 
have planted our feet upon solid earth. Streams of light will 
gleam out from the luminous truth embodied in the legislation 
of this day. This is the ne plus ultra of reconstruction, and I 
hope we shall have the courage to go before our people every- 
where with ** This or nothing " for our motto. 

Now, sir, as a temporary measure, I give my support to this 
military bill, properly restricted. It is severe. It was written 
with a steel pen made out of a bayonet ; and bayonets have 
done us good service hitherto. All I ask is, that Congress shall 
place civil governments before these people of the Rebel States, 
and a cordon of bayonets behind them. 


On the i8th of February, the House having under consideration the 
Military Reconstruction Bill, with the Senate amendments, providing for 
establishing civil governments in the Rebel States based upon manhood 
suf&age, Mr. Garfield spoke as follows : — 

Mr. Speaker, — The House will remember that I did what I 
could when this bill was first before us to secure an amendment 
which would open the way for restoring the Rebel States to 
their practical relations to the Union, whenever they should es- 
tablish Republican governments based on manhood suflfragc. 
By the votes of Democratic members, the Blaine Amendment 
failed here, but, by an almost unanimous vote, the Senate have 
added some well-considered sections, which effect the same ob- 
ject and make the bill more perfect than any yet proposed. It 
is not all I could wish, but as we are now within a few hours of 
the time when all the legislation of the Thirty-ninth Congress 
will be wholly in the power of the President, we are compelled 
to accept this or run the risk of getting nothing. Now what 
does this bill propose? It lays the hands of the nation upon 
the Rebel State governments, and takes the breath of life out of 
them. It puts the bayonet at the breast of every Rebel mur- 
derer in the South to bring him to justice. It commands the 
army to protect the life and property of citizens, whether black 
or white. It places in the hands of Congress absolutely and 
irrevocably the whole work of reconstruction. 

With this thunderbolt in our hands shall we stagger like idiots 
under its weight? Have we grasped a weapon which we have 
neither the courage nor the wisdom to wield? If I were afraid 
of this Congress and the next, — afraid of my shadow, afraid of 
myself, — I would declaim against this bill as gentlemen around 
me have done. They have spoken vehemently, solemnly, se- 
pulchrally, against it, but they have not done us the favor to 
quote a line from the bill itself to prove that it has any of the 
defects they charge. They tell us it proposes universal amnesty 
to Rebels, but I challenge them to find the shadow of that 
thought in the bill. They tell us it puts the State governments 
into the hands of Rebels. I deny it unless I am a Rebel and 
this is a Rebel Congress. They tell us it is a surrender to the 
President, because it directs him to detail officers to command 
the military districts. Mr. Speaker, I want this Congress to give 
its commands to the President. If he refuses to obey, the im- 
peachment-hunters need make no further search for cause of 


action. There may be abundant cause now, but disobedience 
to thb order will place it beyond all question, — our duty to im- 
peach him will be plain and imperative. 

Mr. Speaker, there are some gentiemen here who live in a 
world far above my poor comprehension. They dwell with 
eagles, — on mountain peaks, — in the region of perpetual frost ; 
and in that ethereal air, with purged vision, they discern the lin- 
eaments in the face of freedom so much more clearly than I do, 
that sometimes when I and other common mortals here have 
almost within our reach a measure which we think a great gain 
to liberty, they come down and tell us our measure is low and 
mean, — a compromise with the enemy and a surrender of lib- 
erty. I remember an example of this at the close of the last 
session. Many of us had tried in vain to put manhood suffrage 
into the Fourteenth Amendment; but all knew that the safety 
Qf the nation and the life of the Union party were bound up 
in the passage of that Amendment in the shape it finally as- 
sumed. At the last moment, when it was known that the 
Union party in this body had determined to pass it, the pre- 
vious question was withheld to allow these exalted thinkers to 
denounce it as an unworthy, unstatesmanlike surrender. But 
the House passed it, the Senate concurred, and the people ap- 
proved it by the most overwhelming majorities known in our 
political history. 

The pending measure, Mr. Speaker, goes far beyond the 
Fourteenth Amendment, and in addition to other beneficent 
provisions it recognizes and secures forever the full political 
rights of all loyal men in the Rebel States, without distinction 
of race or color. If any gentleman can show me a greater 
gain to liberty in the last half-century, he will open a chapter 
of history which it has not been my privilege to read. But 
these sublime political philosophers regard it as wholly unwor- 
thy their high sanction. 

Mr. Speaker, some of us are so irreverent as to begin to sus- 
pect that the real reason for opposing this bill is to be found in 
another direction. The distinguished gentieman from Pennsyl- 
vania ^ made a remark this morning which may explain his op- 
position. He complained that the Senate had forced upon us 
the question of reconstruction, which our bill did not touch. 
His course on this measure leads me to suspect that he does 

1 Mr. Stevens. 


not desire to touch the question of reconstruction. For my 
part, I desire that these Rebel States shall be restored at the 
earliest moment that safety and liberty will allow. The Amer- 
ican people desire reconstruction. At the beginning of the war 
the fiat of the nation went forth that the Union should not be 
destroyed, — that the Rebel States should be brought back to 
their places. To this end they fought and suffered ; to this end 
they have voted and we have legislated. They demand that we 
delay reconstruction until it can be done in the interest of lib- 
erty. Beyond that they will tolerate no delay. Such a recon- 
struction is provided for in this bill. I therefore give it my 
cordial support. 

On the 17th of January, 1868, Mr. Garfield made the following re- 
marks upon a bill introduced by Mr. Bingham, of Ohio, additional and 
supplemental to the Reconstruction Act of March 2, 1867. The bill 
passed the House, but never came to a vote in the Senate. 

Mr. Speaker, — I shall spend none of the few minutes 
given to me in discussing the constitutionality or propriety 
of the first section of this bill, which declares that the so-called 
State governments in ten of the rebellious States that were set 
up by the President without consent of the people thereof, and 
without the authority of Congress, are neither republican in 
form nor valid in law. Whatever may be the opinions of any 
gentlemen here, the doctrine involved in that section was decid- 
ed by the Thirty-ninth Congress, and that decision was ratified 
by the people when the Fortieth Congress was elected. No 
political issue was more clearly defined or more decisively set- 
tled. Let me remind the House what that issue involved, and 
what was decided by the result. 

The President and his followers held that, though the Rebel- 
lion had overthrown all civil government in the Rebel States, 
yet he, as the head of the Federal government, had set up new 
governments, which he deemed republican in form, and which 
were therefore entitled to representation in Congress. Congress 
denied the authority of the President to build State govern- 
ments, and claimed that, by the decision of the Supreme Court, 
it was made the duty of Congress to provide for carrying into 
effect that clause of the Constitution which declares, "The 

VOL. I. 17 


United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a re- 
publican form of government" Congress decreed that, until 
the restoration shall be accomplished, the Rebel States shall be 
held in the military grasp of the Republic; and, in order to 
restore them at the earliest possible day, a law was passed ena- 
bling the loyal people to form governments and build again 
where rebellion had destroyed. Congress did not commit itself 
to the dogma that those States were out of the Union, but it 
proceeded upon the acknowledged fact that their civil govern- 
ments were utterly destroyed and should be rebuilt The Con- 
gressional plan and the President's plan were placed on trial 
before the people in the fall of 1866. That the verdict was 
against the Presidential and in favor of the Congressional plan, 
is witnessed by the relative strength of the two parties on this 
floor to-day. We are here to obey the people who sent us. 
The first section of this bill is but a repetition, in clearer lan- 
guage, of the law of the Thirty-ninth Congress. For all political 
purposes, therefore, the doctrine of the first section is settled, 
and the case is closed. 

The only feature to which I desire to call the attention of the 
House this morning is the second section of the bill. This sec- 
tion makes it the duty of the General of the Army to assign 
such officers of the army as he may think best to the work of 
carrying out the reconstruction law. That work has heretofore 
been placed in the hands of the President. Here we are met at 
the threshold, by gentlemen on the other side, with the decla- 
ration that Congress has no power to assign the General of the 
Army and his subordinates to this duty, because of that clause 
of the Constitution which makes the President Commander-in- 
chief of the Army and Navy. I ask the attention of the House, 
for a few moments, to the consideration of this objection. 

Under the laws of Great Britain the king is not only Com- 
mander-in-chief of the Army and Navy, but is empowered 
to make rules and regulations for the government of the land 
and naval forces of the realm. He can declare war and con- 
clude peace. He is, therefore, in the full sense of the term, 
commander-in-chief. The Parliament controls him chiefly by 
its right to grant or withhold all supplies for the army and 
navy. When our fathers framed the constitution of govern- 
ment under which we live, they so far copied the British law 
as to declare that the President of the United States should be 


the Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy ; but they pro- 
ceeded to limit and restrict that grant of power by six distinct 
clauses in the Constitution, giving six distinct powers to Con- 
gress. These clauses are found in the first article, section eighth, 
and are as follows : — 

" The Congress shall have power .... 

" To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules 
concerning captures on land and water ; 

" To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that 
use shall be for a longer term than two years ; 

" To provide and maintain a navy ; 

" To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and 
naval forces ; 

" To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the 
Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions ; 

" To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and 
for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the 
United States, reserving to the States respectively the appointment of the 
officers and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline 
prescribed by Congress." 

The power, therefore, which is conferred upon the President 
by the declaration of the Constitution that he is Commander-in- 
chief must always be understood with these limitations. With- 
out the authority of Congress there can be no War Department, 
no army, no navy. Without the authority of Congress there 
can be no general of the army. Without the authority of Con- 
gress there can be no officers, high or low, in the army or navy 
of the United States. We therefore begin with these constitu- 
tional limitations of the President's authority as Commander-in- 
chief. Now, how has Congress used its power heretofore in 
reference to the army? In 1789, by an act approved August 7, 
Congress established a War Department, enacted laws to gov- 
ern it, and from time to time thereafter established subordinate 
departments and bureaus in that department. 

Let it be noticed, also, that another clause of the Constitu- 
tion may be applied here. Congress may authorize the heads 
of departments to appoint inferior officers. It might have au- 
thorized the Secretary of War to appoint every officer of the 
army. It can do so now. It is plainly in our power to take 
every military appointment from the President, and place it 
solely in the hands of the Secretary of War. Congress did not 


choose to take that course, but it did establish all the subordi- 
nate departments of the government, and prescribes the duties 
of officers in those departments. 

By an act of Congress, approved May 22, 181 2, the Quarter- 
master-General is authorized to appoint barrack-masters. Now, 
can the President appoint barrack-masters in contravention of 
that law? Congress conferred that power upon the Quarter- 
master-General, and the President, though Commander-in-chief, 
cannot exercise that function without usurpation. The same 
act requires quartermasters to give properly secured bonds be- 
fore performing any of the duties of their appointment. Can 
the President legally order them to perform such duty before 
such bonds are given? 

By a law of Congress approved April 10, 1806, it is declared 
that " the Judge- Advocate, or some person deputed by him or 
by the general or officer commanding the army, detachment, or 
garrison, shall prosecute in the name of the United States.'* Can 
the President of the United States prosecute an officer or pri- 
vate before a court-martial? He cannot, because Congress has 
conferred upon a subordinate officer of the army that power, 
and the President, though Commander-in-chief, cannot set it 

A friend near me says these are subordinates. I answer, that 
the General of the Army of the United States is also a subordi- 
nate. He is, to Congress, as subordinate as a judge-advocate, a 
quartermaster, or a barrack- master. It makes no difference 
how high his rank may be, he is none the less subordinate to 
Cojigress. The President is Commander-in-chief, but he must 
command in accordance with the Rules and Articles of War, — 
the acts of Congress. 

I call attention to the oath that every officer and enlisted man 
takes before entering the army. It is in these words : '* I do 
solemnly swear that I will bear true allegiance to the United 
States, .... and will observe and obey the orders of the 
President of the United States, and the orders of the officers 
appointed over me, according to the rules and articles for the 
government of the army of the United States." Now, should 
the President of the United States give to the humblest officer 
of the army an order contrary to the Rules and Articles of War, 
or to any law of Congress, the subordinate can peremptorily 
refuse to obey, because the order has not been given in ac- 


cordance with the rules and regulations of the power which 
commands both him and the President. ' 

If Congress can make laws assigning special duties to subordi- 
nate officers, such as judge-advocates, quartermasters, and bar- 
rack-masters, what new doctrine is this that it may not also 
assign special duties to the General of the Army? The volumes 
of statutes are full of laws of Congress, commanding all classes 
of officers to perform all kinds of duties. It is now proposed to 
require of the General of the Army the performance of a special 
duty, — the duty of directing the operations of that part of the 
army which occupies the States lately in rebellion. If the gen- 
eral should neglect this duty, the President, as Commander-in- 
chief, can call him to account for such neglect, but he cannot 
prevent his obedience to the law. 

I now come to inquire why this legislation is needed. It is 
because this Congress, in its work of restoring to their places 
the States lately in rebellion, authorized the President to assign 
the officers of the army to the duties prescribed in the law, and 
the President has made such use of that authority as to obstruct 
and delay the restoration of those States. Without violating 
the letter of the law, he has been able, in a great measure, to 
hinder its full and efficient execution. His acts and those 
of his advisers are to-day the chief obstacles to the prompt 
restoration of the Rebel States; and Congress proposes to 
remove those obstacles, by transferring this authority to the 
hands of one who has shown his loyalty to the country and his 
willingness to obey the laws of the Union. 

Mr. Speaker, I will not repeat the long catalogue of obstaic- 
tions which the President has thrown in the way, by virtue of 
the power conferred upon him in the reconstruction law of 1867 1 
but I will allude to one example where he has found in a major- 
general of the army a facile instrument with which more effect- 
ually to obstruct the work of reconstruction. This case is all 
the more painful, because an otherwise meritorious officer, who 
bears honorable scars earned in battle for the Union, has been 
made a party to the political madness which has so long marked 
the conduct of the President. This general was sent into the 
district of Louisiana and Texas with a law of Congress in his 
hand, a law that commands him to see that justice is adminis- 
tered among the people of that country, and that no pretence of 
civil authority shall deter him from performing his duty; and 


yet we find that officer giving lectures in the form of proclama- 
tions and orders on what ought to be the relation between the 
civil and military departments of the government. We see him 
issuing a general order, in which he declares that the civil power 
should not give way before the military. We hear him declaring 
that he finds nothing in the laws of Louisiana and Texas to war- 
rant his interference in the civil administration of those States. 
It is not for him to say which should be first, the civil or the 
military authority, in that Rebel community. It is not for him 
to search the defunct laws of Louisiana and Texas for a guide 
to his conduct. It is for him to execute the laws which he was 
sent there to administer. It is for him to aid in building up 
civil governments, rather than to prepare himself to be the Presi- 
dential candidate of that party which gave him no sympathy 
when he was gallantly fighting the battles of the country. 

Some of our friends say, since the President is the chief obsta- 
cle, remove him by impeachment. As the end is more impor- 
tant than the means, so is the rebuilding of law and liberty on 
the ruins of anarchy and slavery more important than the im- 
peachment of Andrew Johnson. If, by placing the work in 
other hands, it can be done more speedily than through the 
slow process of impeachment, we shall so much sooner end the 
reign of chaos in the South. Let no man suppose that, because 
this House did not resolve to proceed .with impeachment, it 
will abandon the loyal men of the South to the tender mercies 
of Rebels, or to the insane policy of the President and his 

Mr. Speaker, the Union party will take no step backward in 
this work of reconstruction. The policy inaugurated by the 
Thirty-ninth Congress we are now carrying out. The State of 
Tennessee has already been restored to its relations to the 
Union. Alabama has prepared a constitution, and on the 4th 
of February her loyal people will vote to adopt or reject it; and 
before the middle of that month I expect to see her repre- 
sentatives occupying seats in these halls. Seven of the Rebel 
States are now holding conventions and framing constitutions 
of government in pursuance of the laws of Congress; and in 
the two remaining States, Florida and Texas, elections have been 
ordered, and the people will soon vote for or against a conven- 
tion. The work is going on; and, if there be no adverse action 
to thwart it, before another twelvemonth we shall see most, 


if not all, of these States completely restored. Who now is 
opposing it? Gentlemen upon the other side are manifestly 
arrayed with the President in endeavoring to obstruct the work 
of reconstruction ; and without charging upon them Rebel sym- 
pathies, or imputing to them any improper motives, I do say 
that their conduct is pleasing to every unrepentant and un- 
hanged traitor in the South. The whole mass of the Rebel 
population are in favor of obstructing the reconstruction pol- 
icy of Congress. There is not a man who went into rebellion 
against the government, not a guerilla who shot down our 
wounded soldiers in ambulances, not a man that burned our 
cities and steamboats, not a man that starved our prisoners, 
not a man who aided in the assassination of our President, 
not a Rebel, from one end of the country to the other, who 
is not to-day in sympathy with this party in Congress in its 
attempts to obstruct and defeat the reconstruction policy of 

With such a combination against us, does any one suppose 
that we can take one step backward, — much less, that we will 
permit an officer of our army to fling back in our faces his 
contempt of the law, and tell us what policy shall be adopt- 
ed? It was reported in the public papers only yesterday, that 
the Governor of Texas had informed General Hancock that 
murderers in Texas could not be punished by the civil law. 
Yet this general sends back word to the Governor of Texas, 
that he docs not wish to interfere in any civil matters. Sir, he 
was sent down there for the very purpose of interfering in such 
matters as the non-punishment of murderers. 

The first two paragraphs of Mr. Garfield's remarks on the bill admitting 
Georgia to representation in Congress, made in the House, June 24, 
1870, are also given. 

Mr. Speaker, — I have been a listener for the last two years 
to what has been said on the subject of reconstruction, and dur- 
ing that time have rarely taken a part in these debates. We 
have now reached a critical period in our legislation, when we 
are called upon to perform the final act, — to complete, for bet- 
ter or for worse, the reconstruction policy of the government. 


I have followed the remarks of my colleague from Ohio,^ as well 
as those of other gentlemen, and I confess that any attempt at 
reconciling all we have done on the subject of reconstruction so 
as to form consistent precedents for any given theory of legis- 
lative action is, to my mind, a failure. There are no theories 
for the management of whirlwinds and earthquakes. There are 
no precedents for any of the great and sudden evils of society 
which are themselves unprecedented. 

While on the whole the historian will be able to trace a gen- 
eral line of conduct not altogether inconsistent with itself, dur- 
ing the last five or six years of our legislation on this subject, I 
think he will find many anomalies in the course of that history. 
For my part, I have never admitted the doctrine of State sui- 
cide. I opposed that doctrine in 1864; I opposed it again in 
1866, at a time when it was popular here and in the other end 
of the Capitol ; and I am glad to know the settled policy of the 
country has at last also condemned it. While we did not as a 
nation admit the doctrine that States, by rebellion, could go out 
of the Union and set themselves up as independent States ex- 
cept by successful revolution, the nation nevertheless held and 
asserted that, under the Constitution, we had the amplest power 
to coerce by arms, and then to restore to its place in the Union, 
any State that chose to destroy its organization, and rebel against 
the government of the United States. In the exercise of those 
high constitutional functions, we first put down the Rebellion, 
and have since been setting up, one by one, the shattered pillars 
of these States which the Rebellion attempted to demolish, and 
thus to destroy the noble structure of the Union. It is now in 
our hands to determine how Georgia, the last of the Rebel 
States, shall be restored to her place in the great temple of 

1 Mr. Bingham. 




June 14, 1867. 

In the course of the school year 1866-67, the Trustees of the West- 
em Reserve Eclectic Institute, at which Mr. Garfield had prepared for 
college, of which he was Principal from 1857 to 186 1, and of which he 
was now a Trustee, took steps to clothe the institution with the powers 
and responsibilities of a college with its present name, Hiram College. 
The transition was effected at the close of that year. The occasion was 
recognized by the delivery of the following address. The facts now 
stated — the change of the character and name of the school, and the 
adoption of a new course of study — will explain some of Mr. Garfield's 
remarks, especially towards the close of the address. 

GENTLEMEN OF the Literary Societies, — I con- 
gratulate you on the significant fact, that the questions 
which most vitally concern your personal work are at this time 
rapidly becoming, indeed have already become, questions of 
first importance to the whole nation. In ordinary times, we 
could scarcely find two subjects wider apart than the medita- 
tions of a schoolboy, when he asks what he shall do with him- 
self, and how he shall do it, and the forecastings of a great 
nation, when it studies the laws of its own life, and endeavors to 
solve the problem of its destiny. But now there is more than a 
resemblance between the nation's work and yours. If the two 
are not identical, they at least bear the relation of the whole to 
a part. 

The nation, having passed through the childhood of its his- 
tory, and being about to enter upon a new life, based on a fuller 
recognition of the rights of manhood, has discovered that liberty 


can be safe only when the suffrage is illuminated by education. 
It is now perceived that the life and light of a nation are insep- 
arable. Hence the Federal government has established a Na- 
tional Department of Education, for the purpose of teaching 
young men and women how to be good citizens. 

You, young gentlemen, having passed the limits of childhood, 
and being about to enter the larger world of manhood, with its 
manifold struggles and aspirations, are now confronted with the 
question, " What must I do to fit myself most completely, not 
for being a citizen merely, but for being all that doth become 
a man living in the full light of the Christian civilization of 
America? " Your disinthralled and victorious country asks you 
to be educated for her sake, and the noblest aspirations of your 
being still more imperatively ask it for your own sake. In the 
hope that I may aid you in solving some of these questions, I 
have chosen for my theme on this occasion, The Course of 
Study in American Colleges, and its' Adaptation to the Wants 
of our Time. 

Before examining any course of study, we should clearly ap- 
prehend the objects to be obtained by a liberal education. In 
general, it may be said that the purpose of all study is two- 
fold, — to discipline our faculties, and to acquire knowledge for 
the duties of life. It is happily provided in the constitution of 
the human mind, that the labor by which knowledge is acquired 
is the only means of disciplining the powers. It may be stated 
as a general rule, that if we compel ourselves to learn what we 
ought to know, and use it when learned, our discipline will take 
care of itself. Let us, then, inquire. What kinds of knowledge 
should be the objects of a liberal education? 

Without adopting in full the classification of Herbert Spen- 
cer,^ it will be sufficiently comprehensive for my present pur- 
pose to name the following kinds of knowledge, stated in the 
order of their importance: — 

First. That knowledge which is necessary for the full devel- 
opment of our bodies and the preservation of our health. 

Second. The knowledge of those principles by which the 
useful arts and industries are carried on and improved. 

Third. That knowledge which is necessary to a full compre- 
hension of our rights and duties as citizens. 

1 Education, Intellectual, Moral, and Physical, Chap. I., ** What Knowledge 
is of most Worth ? " 


Fourth. A knowledge of the intellectual, moral, religious, 
and aesthetic nature of man, and his relations to nature and civ- 

Fifth. That special and thorough knowledge which is requi- 
site for the particular profession or pursuit which a man may 
choose as his life-work after he has completed his college 

In brief, the student should study himself, his relations to 
society, to nature, and to art; and above all, in all, and through 
all these, he should study the relations of himself, society, na- 
ture, and art, to God, the author of them all. 

Of course it is not possible, nor is it desirable, to confine the 
course of development exclusively to this order ; for truths are 
so related and correlated that no department of the realm of 
Truth is wholly isolated. We cannot learn much that pertains 
to the industry of society, without learning something of the 
material world, and the laws which govern it. We cannot study 
nature profoundly without bringing ourselves into communion 
with the spirit of art, which pervades and fills the universe. But 
what I suggest is, that we should make the course of study 
conform generally to the order here indicated ; that the student 
shall first study what he most needs to know ; that the order of 
his needs shall be the order of his work. 

Now, it will not be denied that, from the day when the child's 
foot first presses the green turf till the day when, an old man, 
he is ready to be laid under it, there is not an hour in which he 
does not need to know a thousand things in relation to his 
body, — what he shall eat, what he shall drink, and wherewithal 
he shall be clothed. Unprovided with that instinct which en- 
ables the lower animals to reject the noxious and select the 
nutritive, man must learn even the most primary truth that 
ministers to his self-preservation. If parents were themselves 
sufficiently educated, most of this knowledge might be acquired 
at the mother's knee ; but, by the strangest perversion and mis- 
direction of the educational forces, these most essential elements 
of knowledge are more neglected than any other. 

School committees would summarily dismiss the teacher who 
should have the good sense and courage to spend three days of 
each week with her pupils in the fields and woods, teaching 
them the names, peculiarities, and uses of rocks, trees, plants, 
and flowers, and the beautiful story of the animals, birds, and 

1 1 ■; 



can be safe only when the su 
It is now perceived that th 
arable. Hence the Fedcr 
tional Department of i 
young men and woi^ 

You, young gcntl* 
and being about t 
manifold stru$r<'- 
question, ''VN' 

I ' 

..V, beauty. They will 

...;. :hat undefended and 

iivsical and intellectual 

.^ J Silence, in a vain attempt 

V L>rinted page, for six hours 

,1 he finished his slaughter of 

. ,> jtactice kills by the savagery 

for being n 
a man 1^^ 
to lv_ 


^>* ■■«. 

V ^ 

\ s » 

...^v::cd to study? Besides the mass 

..:tv:'i he is compelled to memorize, not 

V. ».wcrstands, at eight or ten years of 

.. :*'!!j;lish grammar, — one of the most 

.:o metaphysical of studies, requiring a 

and discipline to master it. Thus are 

at worse than squandered — those thrice 

> • .v»» '-he child is all ear and eye, when its eager 

.^.,.uu*ie curiosity, hungers and thirsts to know the 

-w .k >\ v»f the world and its wonderful furniture. We 

X xuvvt clamor by cramming its hungry mind with 

^^^ empty, meaningless words. It asks for bread, 

• a ^tonc. It is to me a perpetual wonder that 

. , X ^*\e of knowledge survives the outrages of the 

'^ ,..w. li would be foreign to my present purpose to 

»:;thei the subject of primary education ; but it is wor- 

, , .Mv»knnulest thought, for ** out of it arc the issues of 

I 'KiL man will be a benefactor of his race who shall teach 

>,u iv* manage rightly the first years of a child's education. 

^v, v».ie» vleelare that no child of mine shall ever be compelled 

. x,.:J\ vMK* hour, or to learn even the English alphabet, before 

V h^i.-* deposited under his skin at least seven years of muscle 

\\ hat ate our seminaries and colleges accomplishing in the 

wax v»J teaching the laws of life and physical well-being? I 

^hvHild scarcely wrong them were I to answer, Nothing, — abso- 

Uilclv n\»thing. The few recitations which some of the colleges 

j^^^iiio in anatomy and physiology unfold but the alphabet of 

\h\vie sciences. The emphasis of college culture does not fall 

th**ri*. I'he graduate has learned the Latin of the old maxim, 

^ms sana in corpore sano ; but how to strengthen the mind by 

iV preservation of the body, he has never learned. He can 

^iJl you in Xenophon's best Attic Greek, that Apollo flayed 


the unhappy Marsyas, and hanged up his skin as a trophy; but 
he has never examined the wonderful texture of his own skin, 
or the laws by which he may preserve it. He would blush, were 
he to mistake the place of a Greek accent, or put the ictus on 
the second syllable of ^olus; but the whole circle liberalium ^..f^' 
artiiun, so pompously referred to in his diploma of graduation, 
may not have taught him, as I can testify in an instance person- 
ally known to me, whether \A\cjg'umtm is a bone, or the humerus 
an intestine. Every hour of study consumes a portion of his 
muscular and vital force. Every tissue of his body requires its 
appropriate nourishment, the elements of which are found in 
abundance in the various products of nature ; but he has never 
inquired where he shall find the phosphates and carbonates of 
lime for his bones, albumen and fibrine for his blood, and 
phosphorus for his brain. His chemistry, mineralogy, botany, 
anatomy, and physiology, if thoroughly studied, would give all 
this knowledge ; but he has been intent on things remote and 
foreign, and has given little heed to those matters which so 
nearly concern the chief functions of life. Yet the student 
should not be blamed. The great men of history have set him 
the example. Copernicus discovered and announced the true 
theory of the solar system a hundred years before the circulation 
of the blood was known. Though from the heart to the surface, 
and from the surface back to the heart of every man of the race, 
some twenty pounds of blood had made the circuit once every 
three minutes, from the creation of the first man, yet men were 
looking so steadily away from themselves that they did not ob- 
serve the wonderful fact. Man's habit of thought has devel- 
oped itself in all the courses of college study. 

In the next place, I inquire, What kinds of knowledge are 
necessary for carrying on and improving the useful arts and in- 
dustries of civilized life ? I am well aware of the current notion 
that these muscular arts should stay in the fields and shops, and 
not invade the sanctuaries of learning. A finished education is 
supposed to consist mainly of literary culture. The story of the 
forges of the Cyclops, where the thunderbolts of Jove were 
fashioned, is supposed to adorn elegant scholarship more grace- 
fully than those sturdy truths which are preached to this gener- 
ation in the wonders of the mine, in the fire of the furnace, in 
the clang of the iron-mill, and the other innumerable industries 
which, more than all other human agencies, have made our civil- 


ization what it is, and are destined to achieve wonders yet un- 
dreamed of. This generation is beginning to understand that 
education should not be forever divorced from industry, — that 
the highest results can be reached only when science guides the 
hand of labor. With what eagerness and alacrity is industry 
seizing every truth of science, and putting it in harness ! A few 
years ago, Bessemer, of England, studying the nice affinities 
between carbon and the metals, discovered that a slight change 
of combination would produce a metal possessing the ductility 
of iron and the compactness of steel, and which would cost but 
little more than common iron. One rail of this metal will out- 
last fifteen of the iron rails now in use. Millions of capital are 
already invested to utilize this thought of Bessemer, which must 
soon revolutionize the iron manufacture of the world. 

Another example. The late war raised the price of cotton 
and paper made of cotton rags. It was found that good paper 
could be manufactured from the fibre of soft wood ; but it was 
expensive and difficult to reduce the wood to pulp, without 
chopping the fibre in pieces. A Yankee mechanic, who had 
learned from the science of vegetable anatomy that a billet of 
wood is composed of millions of hollow cylinders, many of them 
so small that only the microscope can reveal them, and having 
learned also the penetrative and expansive power of steam, wed- 
ded these two truths in an experiment, which, if exhibited to 
Socrates, would have been declared a miracle from the gods. 
The experiment was very simple. Putting his block of wood in 
a strong box, he forced into it a volume of superheated steam, 
which made its way into the minutest pore and cell of the wood. 
Then, through a trap-door suddenly opened, the block was 
tossed out. The outside pressure being removed, the expand- 
ing steam instantly burst every one of the million tubes ; every 
vegetable flue collapsed, and his block of wood lay before him a 
mass of fleecy fibre, more delicate than the hand of man could 
make it. 

Machinery is the chief implement with which civilization does 
its work ; but the science of mechanics is impossible without 
mathematics. But for her mineral resources England would be 
only the hunting-park of Europe, and it is believed that her day 
of greatness will terminate when her coal-fields are. exhausted. 
Our mineral wealth is a thousand times greater than hers ; and 
yet, without the knowledge of geology, mineralogy, metallurgy. 


and chemistry, our mines can be of but little value. Without 
a knowledge of astronomy, commerce on the sea is impossible ; 
and now, at last, it is being discovered that the greatest of all 
our industries, agriculture, in which three fourths of all our 
population are engaged, must call science to its aid, if it would 
keep up with the demands of civilization. I need not enumer- 
ate the extent and variety of knowledge, scientific and practical, 
which a farmer needs in order to reach the full height and 
scope of his noble calling. 

And what has our American system of education done for 
this controlling majority of the people? I can best answer that 
question with a single fact. Notwithstanding there are in the 
United States one hundred and twenty thousand common 
schools and seven thousand academies and seminaries, — not- 
withstanding there are two hundred and seventy-five colleges 
where young men may be graduated as bachelors and masters 
of the liberal arts, — yet in all these the people of the United 
States have found so little being done or likely to be done, to 
educate men for the work of agriculture, that they have de- 
manded, and at last have secured from their political servants in 
Congress, an appropriation sufficient to build and maintain, in 
each State of the Union, a college for the education of farm- 
ers. This great outlay would have .been totally unnecessary, 
but for the stupid and criminal neglect of college, academic, 
and common-school boards of education to furnish that which 
the wants of the people require. The scholar and the worker 
must join hands, if both would be successful. 

I next ask, What studies arc necessary to teach our young 
men and women the history and spirit of our government, and 
their rights and duties as citizens? There is not now, and 
there never was on this earth, a people who have had so many 
and weighty reasons for loving their country, and thanking 
God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, as our own. 
And yet seven years ago there was probably less strong, ear- 
nest, open love of country in the United States than in any 
other nation of Christendom. It is true that the gulf of anarchy 
and ruin into which treason threatened to plunge us startled 
the nation as by an electric shock, and galvanized into life its 
dormant and dying patriotism. But how came it dormant and 
dying? I do not hesitate to affirm, that one of the chief causes 
was our defective system of education. Seven years ago there 


was scarcely an American college in which more than four 
weeks out of the four years' course was devoted to studying 
the government and history of the United States. For this* 
feature of our educational system I have neither respect nor tol- 
eration. It is far inferior to that of Persia three thousand years 
ago. The uncultivated tribes of Greece, Rome, Libya, and Ger- 
many surpassed us in this respect. Grecian children were taught 
to reverence and emulate the virtues of their ancestors. Our 
educational forces are so wielded as to teach our children to ad- 
mire most that which is foreign, and fabulous, and dead. I have 
recently examined the catalogue of a leading New England col- 
lege, in which the geography and history of Greece and Rome 
are required to be studied five terms ; but neither the history 
nor the geography of the United States is named in the college 
course, or required as a condition of admission. The American 
child must know all the classic rivers, from the Scamander to 
the yellow Tiber ; must tell you the length of the Appian Way, 
and of the canal over which Horace and Virgil sailed on their 
journey to Brundusium ; but he may be crowned with bacca- 
laureate honors without having heard, since his first moment 
of Freshman life, one word concerning the one hundred and 
twenty-two thousand miles of coast and river navigation, the six 
thousand miles of canal, ^nd the thirty-five thousand miles of 
railroad, which indicate both the prosperity and the possibilities 
of his own country. 

It is well to know the history of those magnificent nations 
whose origin is lost in fable, and whose epitaphs were written a 
thousand years ago ; but if wc cannot know both, it is far bet- 
ter to study the history of our own nation, whose origin we can 
trace to the freest and noblest aspirations of the human heart, — 
a nation that was formed from the hardiest, purest, and most 
enduring elements of European civilization, — a nation that, by 
its faith and courage, has dared and accomplished more for the 
human race in a single century than Europe accomplished in 
the first thousand years of the Christian era. 

The New England township was the type after which our 
Federal government was modelled ; yet it would be rare to find 
a college student who can make a comprehensive and intelligent 
statement of the municipal organization of the township in which 
he lives, and tell you by what officers its legislative, judicial, and 
executive functions are administered. One half of the time 


which is now almost wholly wasted in district schools on Eng- 
lish grammar, attempted at too early an age, would be sufficient 
to teach our children to love the republic, and to become its 
loyal and life-long supporters. After the bloody baptism from 
which the nation has arisen to a higher and nobler life, if this 
shameful defect in our system of education be not speedily 
remedied, wc shall deserve the infinite contempt of future gen- 
erations. I insist that it should be made an indispensable con- 
dition of graduation in every American college, that the student 
must understand the history of this continent since its discovery 
by Europeans ; the origin and history of the United States, its 
constitution of government, the struggles through which it has 
passed, and the rights and duties of citizens who are to deter- 
mine its destiny and share its glory. 

I Having^thus gained the knowledge which is necessary to life,. 
healthy industry, and citizenship, the student] is prepared to 
enter a wider and grander field of thought. It he desires that 
large and liberal culture which will call into activity all his pow- 
ers, and make the most of the material God has given him, he 
^ust study deeply and earnestly the intellectual, the moral, the 
religious, and the aesthetic nature of man] — his relations to na- 
ture, to civilization past and present, and, above all, hi.s rela- 
tions to God. These should occupy nearly, if not fully, half 
the time of his college course. In connection with the philoso- 
phy of the mind, he should study logic, the pure mathematics, 
and the general laws of thought. In connection with moral 
philosophy, he should study political and social ethics, a science 
so little known cither in colleges or congresses. Prominent 
among all the rest should be his study of the wonderful history 
of the human race, in its slow and toilsome march across the 
centuries; — now buried in ignorance, superstition, and crime; 
now rising to the sublimity of heroism, and catching a glimpse 
of a better destiny; now turning remorselessly away from, and 
leaving to perish, empires and civilizations in which it had in- 
vested its faith and courage and boundless energy for a thou- 
sand years, and plunging into the forests of Germany, Gaul, and 
Britain, to build for itself new empires, better fitted for its new 
aspirations; and at last crossing three thousand miles of un- 
known sea, anjd building in the wilderness of a new hemisphere 
its latest and proudest monuments. To know this as it ought 
to be known requires not only a knowledge of general history, 

VOL. I. 18 


but a thorough understanding of such works as Guizot's " His- 
tory of Civilization " and Draper's ** Intellectual Development of 
Europe," and also the rich literature of ancient and modern na- 
tions. Of course, our colleges cannot be expected to lead the 
student through all the paths of this great field of learning ; but 
they should at least point out its boundaries, and let him taste 
a few clusters from its richest vines. 

Finally, in rounding up the measure of his work, the student 
should crown his education with that aesthetic culture which 
will unfold to him the delights of nature and art, and make his 
mind and heart a fit temple where the immortal spirit of Beauty 
may dwell forever. While acquiring this kind of knowledge, 
the student is on a perpetual voyage of discovery, — searching 
what he is and what he may become, how he is related to the 
universe, and how the harmonies of the outer world respond to 
the voice within him. It is in this range of study that he learns 
most fully his own tastes and aptitudes, and generally deter- 
mines what his work in life shall be. 

The last item in the classification I have suggested, that spe- 
cial knowledge which is necessary to fit a man for the particular 
profession or calling he may adopt, I cannot discuss here, as it 
lies outside the field of general education ; but I will make one 
suggestion to the young gentlemen before mc who intend to 
choose, as their life-work, some one of the learned professions. 
You will commit a fatal mistake if you make only the same 
preparations which your predecessors made fifty, or even ten 
years ago. Each generation must have a higher cultivation than 
the preceding one, in order to be equally successful ; and each 
man must be educated for his own times. If you become a 
lawyer, you must remember that the science of law is not. fixed, 
like geometry, but is a growth which keeps pace with the pro- 
gress of society. The developments of the late war will make 
it necessary to rewrite many of the leading chapters of irttcr- 
national and maritime law. The destruction of slavery and the 
enfranchisement of four millions of colored men will almost rev- 
olutionize American jurisprudence. If Webster were now at 
the bar, in the full glory of his strength, he would be compelled 
largely to reconstruct the fabric of his legal learning. Similar 
changes are occurring both in the medical and military profes- 
sions. Ten years hence the young surgeon will hardly venture 
to open an ofiice till he has studied thoroughly the medical and 


surgical history of the late war. After our experience at Sum- 
ter and Wagner, no nation will again build fortifications of costly 
masonry ; for they have learned that earthworks are not only 
cheaper, but a better defence against artillery. The text-books 
on military engineering must be rewritten. Our Spencer rifle 
and the Prussian needle-gun have revolutionized both the man- 
ufacture of arms and the manual of arms ; and no great battle 
will ever again be fought with muzzle-loading muskets. Napo- 
leon, at the head of his Old Guard, could to-day win no Auster- 
litz till he had read the military history of the last six years. 

It may perhaps be thought that the suggestion I have made 
concerning the professions will not apply to the work of the 
Christian minister, whose principal text-book is a divine and 
perfect revelation ; but, in my judgment, the remark applies to 
the clerical profession with even more force than to any other. 
There is no department of his duties in which he does not need 
the fullest and the latest knowledge. He is pledged to the 
defence of revelation and religion ; but it will not avail him to 
be able to answer the objections of Hume and Voltaire. The 
arguments of Paley were not written to answer the scepticism 
of to-day. His ** Natural Theology " is now less valuable than 
Hugh Miller's " Footprints of the Creator," or Guyot's lectures 
on ** Earth and Man." The men and women of to-day know 
but little, and care less, about the thousand abstract questions 
of polemic theology which puzzled the heads and wearied the 
hearts of our Puritan fathers and mothers. That minister will 
make, and deserves to make, a miserable failure, who attempts 
to feed hungry hearts on the dead dogmas of the past. More 
than that of any other man it is his duty to march abreast of 
the advanced thinkers of his time, and be, not only a learner, but 
a teacher of its science, its literature, and its criticism. But I 
return to the main question before me. 

Having endeavored to state what kinds of knowledge should 
be the objects of a liberal education, I shall next inquire how 
well the course of study in American colleges is adapted to the 
attainment of these objects. In discussing this question, I do 
not forget that he is deemed a rash and imprudent man who 
invades with suggestions of change these venerable sanctuaries 
of learning. Let him venture to suggest that much of the wis- 
dom there taught is foolishness, and he may hear from the 
college chapels of the land, in good Virgilian hexameter, the 


warning cry, "Procul, O procul este, profani ! " Happy for him 
if the whole body of alumni do not with equal pedantry re- 
spond in Horatian verse, " Fenum habet in cornu ; longe fuge." 
But I protest that a friend of American education may suggest 
changes in our college studies without committing profanation, 
or carrying hay on his horns. Our colleges have done, and are 
doing, a noble work, for which they deserve the thanks of the 
nation ; but he is not their enemy who suggests that they ought 
to do much better. As an alumnus of one which I shall always 
reverence, and as a friend of all, I shall venture to discuss the 
work they are doing. 

I have examined the catalogues of some twenty Eastern, 
Western, and Southern colleges, and find the subjects taught, 
and the relative time given to each, about the same in all. The 
chief difference is in the quantity of work required. I will take 
Harvard as a representative, it being the oldest of our colleges, 
and certainly requiring as much study as any other. Remem- 
bering that the standard by which we measure a student's 
work for one day is three recitations of one hour each, and 
that his year usually consists of three terms of thirteen or 
fourteen weeks each, for convenience' sake I will divide the 
work required to admit him to college, and after four years 
to graduate him, into two classes: first, that which belongs 
to the study of Latin and Greek; and, second, that which 
docs not. 

Now, from the annual Catalogue of Harvard for 1866-67, I 
find that the candidate for admission to the Freshman class 
must be examined in eight terms' study in Latin, six in Greek, 
one in ancient geography, one in Grecian history, and one in 
Roman history, which make seventeen terms in the studies of 
the first class. Under the second class the candidate is required 
to be examined in reading, in common-school arithmetic and 
geography, in one term's study of algebra, and one term of 
geometry. English grammar is not mentioned. Thus, after 
completing the elementary branches which are taught in all our 
common schools, it requires about two years and a half of study 
to enter the college ; and of that study seventeen parts are de- 
voted to the language, history, and geography of Greece and 
Rome, and two parts to all other subjects ! 

Reducing the Harvard year to the usual division of three 
terms, the analysis of the work will be found as follows : not 



less than nine terms of Latin (there may be twelve if the stu- 
dent chooses it) ; not less than six terms of Greek (but twelve 
if he chooses it) ; and three terms of Roman history if the stu- 
dent elects it. With the average of three recitations per day, 
and three terms per year, we may say that the whole work of 
college study consists of thirty-six parts. Not less than fifteen 
of these must be devoted to Latin and Greek, and not more 
than twenty-one to all other subjects. If the student chooses, 
he may devote twenty-four parts to Latin and Greek, and twelve 
to all other subjects. Taking the whole six and a half years of 
preparatory and college study, we find that, to earn a bachelor's 
diploma at Harvard, a young man, after leaving the district 
school, must devote four sevenths of all his labor to Greece 
and Rome. 

Now, what do wc find in our second, or unclassical list? It 
is chiefly remarkable for what it does not contain. In the whole 
programme of study, lectures included, no mention whatever is 
made of physical geography, of anatomy, physiology, or the 
general history of the United States. A few weeks of the Sen- 
ior year given to Guizot, the history of the Federal Constitu- 
tion, and a lecture on general history once a week during half 
that year, furnish all that the graduate of Harvard is required 
to know of his own country, and the living nations of the earth. 
He must apply years of arduous labor to the history, oratory, 
and poetry of Greece and Rome ; but he is not required to cull 
a single flower from the rich fields of our own literature. Eng- 
lish literature is not named in the curriculum, except that the 
student may, if he chooses, attend a few general lectures on 
modern literature. 

Such are some of the facts in reference to the educational 
work of our most venerable college, where there is probably 
concentrated more general and special culture than at any other 
in America. I think it probable, that in some of the colleges 
the proportion of Latin and Greek to other studies may be less ; 
but I believe that in none of them is the preparatory and col- 
lege work devoted to these two languages less than half of all 
the work required. Now, the bare statement of this fact should 
challenge, and must challenge, the attention of every thoughtful 
man in the nation. No wonder that men are demanding, with 
an earnestness that will not be repressed, to know how it hap- 
pens, and why it happens, that, placing in one end of the balance 


all the mathematical studies, all the physical sciences in their re- 
cent rapid developments, all the study of the human mind and the 
laws of thought, all the principles of political economy and social 
science which underlie the commerce and industry, and shape 
the legislation of nations, the history of our own nation, its con- 
stitution of government, and its great industrial interests, all the 
literature and history of modern civilization, — placing all this, 
I say, in one end of the balance, they kick the beam when 
Greece and Rome are placed in the other. I hasten to say that 
I make no attack upon the study of these noble languages as 
an important and necessary part of a liberal education. I have 
no sympathy with that sentiment which would drive them from 
academy and college, as a part of the dead past that should 
bury its dead. It is Xki^ proportion of the work given to them of 
which I complain. 

These studies hold their relative rank in obedience to the 
tyranny of custom. Each new college is modelled after the 
older ones, and all the American colleges have been patterned 
on an humble scale after the universities of England. The 
prominence given to Latin and Greek at the founding of these 
universities was a matter of inexorable necessity. The continu- 
ance of the same, or an>^vhcre near the same, relative promi- 
nence to-day, is both unnecessary and indefensible. I appeal to 
history for the proof of these assertions. 

From the close of the fifth century we date the beginning of 
those dark ages which enveloped the whole world for a thou- 
sand years. The human race seemed stricken with intellectual 
paralysis. The noble language of the Caesars, corrupted by a 
hundred barbarous dialects, ceased to be a living tongue long 
before the modern languages of Europe had been reduced to 
writing. In Italy the Latin died in the tenth century; but the 
oldest document known to exist in Italian was not written till 
the year 1200. Italian did not really take its place in the family 
of written languages till a century later, when it was crystallized 
into form and made immortal by the genius of Dante and Pe- 
trarch. The Spanish was not a written language till the year 
1200, and was scarcely known to Europe till Cervantes con- 
vulsed the world with laughter in 1605. The Latin ceased to 
be spoken by the people of France in the tenth century, and 
French was not a written language till the beginning of the 
fourteenth century. Pascal, who died in 1662, is called the 


father of modern French prose. The German, as a literary 
language, dates from Luther, who died in 1546. It was one of 
his mortal sins against Rome, that he translated the Bible into 
the uncouth and vulgar tongue of Germany. 

Our own language is also of recent origin. Richard I. of 
England, who died in 1199, never spoke a word of English in 
his life. Our mother tongue was never heard in an English 
court of justice till 1362. The statutes of England were not 
written in English till three years before Columbus landed in 
the New World. No philologist dates modern English farther 
back than 1500. Sir Thomas More, the author of ** Utopia," 
who died in 1535, was the father of English prose. 

The dark ages were the sleep of the world, while the lan- 
guages of the modern world were being born out of chaos. 
The first glimmer of dawn was in the tA\'elfth century, when 
in Paris, Oxford, and other parts of Europe, universities were 
established. The fifteenth century was spent in saving the rem- 
nants of classic learning which had been locked up in the cells 
of monks, — the Greek at Constantinople, and the Latin in the 
cloisters of Western Europe. 

During the first three hundred years of the life of the older 
universities, it is almost literally true, that no modern tongue 
had become a written language. The learning of Europe was 
in Latin and Greek. In order to study either science or litera- 
ture, these languages must first be learned. European writers 
continued to use Latin long after the modern languages were 
fully established. Even Milton's great " Defence of the People 
of England," which appeared in 165 1, was written in Latin, — as 
were also the ** Principia," and other scientific works of New- 
ton, who died in 1727. The pride of learned corporations, the 
spirit of exclusivencss among learned men, and their want of 
sympathy with the mass of the people, united to maintain Latin 
as the language of learning long after its use ceased to be de- 

Now, mark the contrast between the objects and demands of 
education when the European universities were founded, — or 
even when Har\'ard was founded, — and its demands at the 
present time. We have a family of modern languages almost 
equal in force and perfection to the classic tongues, and a 
modern literature, which, if less perfect than the ancient in aes- 
thetic form, is immeasurably richer in truth, and is filled with 


the noblest and bravest thoughts of the world. When the uni- 
versities were founded, modern science had not been born. 
Scarcely a generation has passed since then, without adding 
some new science to the circle of knowledge. As late as 1809, 
the Edinburgh Review declared that ** lectures upon political 
economy would be discouraged in Oxford, probably despised, 
probably not permitted." At a much later date, there was no 
text-book in the United States on that subject. The claims of 
Latin and Greek to the chief place in the curriculum have been 
gradually growing less, and the importance of other knowledge 
has been constantly increasing ; but the colleges have generally 
opposed all innovations,' and still cling to the old ways with 
stubborn conservatism. Some concessions, however, have been 
made to the necessities of the times, both in Europe and Amer- 
ica. Harvard would hardly venture to enforce its law (which 
prevailed long after Cotton Mather's day) forbidding its students 
to speak English within the college limits, under any pretext 
whatever ; and British Cantabs have had their task of compos- 
ing hexameters in bad Latin reduced by a few thousand verses 
during the last century. 

It costs me a struggle to say anything on this subject which 
may be regarded with favor by those who would reject the 
classics altogether, for I have read them and taught them with 
a pleasure and relish which few other pursuits have ever afford- 
ed me; but I am persuaded that their supporters must soon 
submit to a readjustment of their relations to college study, or 
they may be driven from the course altogether. There are most 
weighty reasons why Latin and Greek should be retained as 
part of a liberal education. He who would study our own lan- 
guage profoundly must not forget that nearly thirty per cent 
of its words are of Latin origin, — that the study of Latin is the 
study of universal grammar, — that it renders the acquisition of 
any modern language an easy task, and is indispensable to 
the teacher of language and literature, and to other profes- 
sional men. Greek is, perhaps, the most perfect instrument of 
thought ever invented by man, and its literature has never been 
equalled in purity of style and boldness of expression. As a 
means of intellectual discipline, its value can hardly be over- 
estimated. To take a long and complicated sentence in Greek, 
to study each word in its meanings, inflections, and relations, 
and to build up in the mind, out of these polished materials, a 


sentence perfect as a temple, and filled with Greek thought 
which has dwelt there two thousand years, is almost an act 
of creation : it calls into activity all the faculties of the mind. 
That the Christian oracles have come down to us in Greek, 
will make Greek scholars forever a necessity. 

These studies, then, should not be neglected: they should 
neither devour nor be devoured. I insist they can be made 
more valuable, and at the same time less prominent, than they 
now are. A large part of the labor now bestowed upon them 
is not devoted to learning the genius and spirit of the lan- 
guage, but is more than wasted on pedantic trifles. In 1809 
Sydney Smith lashed this trifling as it deserves in the Edin- 
burgh Review. Speaking of classical Englishmen, he says : — 

"Their minds have been so completely possessed by exaggerated 
notions of classical learning, that they have not been able, in the great 
school of the world, to form any other notion of real greatness. Attend, 
too, to the public feelings ; look to all the terms of applause. A learned 
man ! a scholar ! a man of erudition ! Upon whom are these epithets 
of approbation bestowed ? Are they given to men acquainted with the 
science of government, thoroughly masters of the geographical and com- 
mercial relations of Europe ? to men who know the properties of bodies 
and their action upon each other ? No : this is not learning ; it is chem- 
istry, or political economy, not learning. The distinguishing abstract 
term, the epithet of scholar, is reserved for him who writes on the -^olic 
reduplication, and is familiar with the Sylburgian method of arranging 

defectives in w and /xi His object [the young Englishman's] is 

not to reason, to imagine, or to invent, but to conjugate, decline, and 
derive. The situations of imaginary glory which he draws for himself 
are the detection of an anapest in the wrong place, or the restoration of 
a dative case which Cranzius had passed over and the never-dying Er- 
nesti failed to observe. If a young classic of this kind were to meet the 
greatest chemist, or the greatest mechanician, or the most profound po- 
litical economist of his time, in company with the greatest Greek scholar, 
would the slightest comparison between them ever come across his mind ? 
Would he ever dream that such men as Adam Smith and Lavoisier were 
equal in dignity of understanding to, or of the same utility as, Bentley or 
Heyne? We are inclined to think that the feeling excited would be 
a good deal like that which was expressed by Dr. George about the 
praises of the great king of Prussia, who entertained considerable doubts 
whether the king, with all his victories, knew how to conjugate a Greek 
verb in /ai." ^ 

1 The Works of the Rev. Sydney Smith, (Boston, 1856,) p. 75. 


He concludes another article,^ written in 1826, with these 
words : " If there is anything which fills reflecting men with 
melancholy and regret, it is the waste of mortal time, parental 
money, and puerile happiness, in the present method of pur- 
suing Latin and Greek." 

To write verse in these languages ; to study elaborate theories 
of the Greek accent, and the ancient pronunciation of both 
Greek and Latin, which no one can ever know he has discov- 
ered, and which would be utterly valueless if he did discover 
it; to toil over the innumerable exceptions to the arbitrary 
rules of poetic quantity, which few succeed in learning, and 
none remember, — these, and a thousand other similar things 
which crowd the pages of Zumpt and Kiihner, no more con- 
stitute a knowledge of the spirit and genius of the Greek and 
Latin languages, than counting the number of threads to the 
square inch in a man's coat and the number of pegs in his 
boots makes us acquainted with his moral and intellectual 
character. The greatest literary monuments of Greece existed 
hundreds of years before the science of grammar was born. 
Plato and Thucydides had a tolerable acquaintance with the 
Greek language ; but Crosby goes far beyond their depth. Our 
colleges should require a student to understand thoroughly the 
structure, idioms, and spirit of these languages, and to be able, 
by the aid of a lexicon, to analyze and translate them with 
readiness and elegance. They should give him the key to the 
storehouse of ancient literature, that he may explore its treas- 
ures for himself in after life. This can be done in two years 
less than the usual time, and nearly as well as it is done now. 

I am glad to inform you, young gentlemen, that the trustees 
of this institution have this day resolved that, in the course of 
study to be pursued here, Latin and Greek shall not be rc- 
quircd after the Freshman year. They must be studied the 
usual time as a requisite to admission, and they may be car- 
ried farther than the Freshman year as elective studies; but in 
the regular course their places will be supplied by some of 
the studies I have already mentioned. Three or four terms in 
general literature will teach you that the republic of letters is 
larger than Greece or Rome. 

The board of trustees have been strengthened in the position 
they have taken, by the fact that a similar course for the future 

* Hamilton's Method of Teaching Languages. 


has recently been announced by the authorities of Harvard Col- 
lege. Within the last six days, I have received a circular from 
the secretary of that venerable college, which announces that 
two thirds of the Latin and Greek are hereafter to be stricken 
from the list of required studies of the college course. I rejoice 
that the movement has begun. Other colleges must follow the 
example ; and the day will not be far distant when it shall be 
the pride of a scholar that he is also a worker, and when the 
worker shall not refuse to become a scholar because he despises 
a trifler. 

I congratulate you that this change does not reduce the 
amount of labor required of you. If it did, I should deplore it. 
I beseech you to remember that the genius of success is still 
the genius of the lamp. If hard work is not another name for 
talent, it is the best possible substitute for it. In the long run, 
the chief difference in men will be found in the amount of work 
they do. Do not trust to what lazy men call the spur of the 
occasion. If you wish to wear spurs in the tournament of life, 
you must buckle them to your own heels before you enter the 

Men look with admiring wonder upon a great intellectual 
effort, like VV^ebster's reply to Hayne, and seem to think that it 
leaped into life by the inspiration of the moment. But if by 
some intellectual chemistry we could resolve that masterly 
speech into its several elements of power, and trace each to 
its source, we should find that every constituent force had been 
elaborated twenty years before, — it may be, in some hour of 
earnest intellectual labor. Occasion may be the bugle-call that 
summons an army to battle ; but the blast of a bugle can never 
make soldiers, or win victories. 

And finally, young gentlemen, learn to cultivate a wise re- 
liance, based not on what you hope, but on what you perform. 
It has long been the habit of this institution, if I may so speak, 
to throw young men overboard, and let them sink or swim. 
None have yet drowned who were worth the saving. I hope 
the practice will be continued, and that you will not rely upon 
outside help for growth or success. Give crutches to cripples; 
but go you forth with brave, true hearts, knowing that fortune 
dwells in your brain and muscle, and that labor is the only 
human symbol of Omnipotence. 

— — 



May is, 1868. 

What was the original view of the Legal Tender Act and the suspen- 
sion of specie payments, was pointed out in the introduction to the 
speech of March 16, 1866. That this view was still the current one at 
the close of the war, is shown by the fact that the House of Representa- 
tives, by a vote of 144 to 6, adopted the resolution of Dec. 18, 1865, 
quoted in this speech.^ A further test of the same kind is found in 
the act of April 12, 1866, which gave the Secretary of the Treasury 
power to call in and cancel legal-tender notes, ten millions of dollars the 
first six months, and after that at the rate of four millions per month. 
But even at that time the effect of an inflated currency, and of ihe 
general use of unredeemed promises as money, could be seen in many 
ways. The public intelligence was becoming darkened, and the public 
conscience hardened. Henceforth for several years a settled and deter- 
mined popular movement in the direction of inflation can be traced. 
Congress responded to popular opinion by enacting, January 23, 1868, 
" That from and after the passage of this act the authority of the 
Secretary of the Treasury to make any reduction of the currency, by 
retiring or cancelling United States notes, shall be and is hereby sus- 
pended." Since the passage of the act of April 12, 1866, the Secretary 
of the Treasury had retired $44,000,000 of greenbacks. The act of 
1868 took from him the power further to contract the currency, and 
indefinitely postponed the return to specie payments. The proposition 
to pay the five-twenty bonds in legal-tender notes had already been sub- 
mitted to the public, and received with much favor. These extreme 
financial doctrines were advocated upon the floor of Congress. Day by 
day, the tide of folly and dishonor rose higher and higher. Hence, as 
an attempt to check its higher rise, if possible to turn it back, Mr. 
Garfield prepared and delivered the following speech. As the House 
was in Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union, he was able 

' See also note to speech of March 16, 1866, ante^ p. 200. 


to handle his subject in the broadest way, and was not required to 
deal with any particular measure. Accordingly, this is one of the most 
expository of all his financial speeches, and comes nearer, perhaps, to 
being a sound-money manual, than any other speech of his life.* 

'* I cannot but lament from my inmost soul that lust for paper money which appears in some 
parts of the United States ; there will never be any uniform rule, if there is any sense of justice, 
nor any clear credit, public or private, nor any settled confidence in public men or measures, 
until paper money is done away." — John Adams. 

MR. CHAIRMAN, — I am aware that financial subjects are 
dull and uninviting in comparison with those heroic 
themes which have absorbed the attention of Congress for the 
last five years. To turn from the consideration of armies and 
navies, victories and defeats, to the long array of figures which 
exhibit the debt, expenditure, taxation, and industry of the 
nation, requires no little courage and self-denial ; but to those 
questions we must come, and to their solution Congresses, politi- 
cal parties, and all thoughtful citizens must give their best efforts 
for many years to come. Our public debt, the greatest financial 
fact of this century, stands in the pathway of all political parties, 
and, like the Theban Sphinx, propounds its riddles. All the 
questions which spring out of the public debt, — such as loans, 
bonds, tariffs, internal taxation, banking, and currency, — pre- 
sent greater difficulties than usually come within the scope of 
American politics. They cannot be settled by force of numbers, 
nor carried by assault, as an army storms the works of an enemy. 
Patient examination of facts, careful study of principles which 
do not always appear on the surface, and which involve the most 
difficult problems of political economy, are the weapons of this 
warfare. No sentiment of national pride should make us un- 
mindful of the fact that we have less experience in this direction 
than any other civilized nation. If this fact is not creditable to 
our intellectual reputation, it at least affords a proof that our 
people have not hitherto been crushed under the burdens of 
taxation. We must consent to be instructed by the experience 

^ It is proper to say that copies of this speech were sent to Europe by the Sec- 
retary of the Treasury, who hoped it might have a favorable effect upon American 
credit abroid. Some of these copies came into the hands of influential members 
of the Cobden Club, London, and led at once to Mr. Garfield's election to its 
honorary membership. 


of other nations, and be willing to approach these questions, not 
with the dogmatism of teachers, but as seekers after truth. 

It is evident that, both in Congress and among the people, 
there is great diversity of opinion on all these themes. He is 
indeed a bold man who, at this time, claims to have mastered 
any one of them, or reached conclusions on all its features satis- 
factory even to himself. For myself; I claim only to have studied 
earnestly to know what the best interests of the country demand 
at the hands of Congress. I have listened with great respect to 
the opinions of those with whom I differ most, and only ask for 
myself what I award to all others, a patient hearing. 

The past six months have been remarkable for unparalleled 
distress in the commercial and industrial interests of half the 
civilized world. In Great Britain the distress among the labor- 
ing classes is more terrible than the people of those islands have 
suffered for a quarter of a century. From every city, town, and 
village in the kingdom the cry of distress comes up through 
every issue of the press. The London Times of December 1 1 
says : " Last winter the demands on the public were unprece- 
dented. The amount of money given to the poor of London 
beyond that disbursed in legal relief of the poor was almost 
incredible. It seemed the demand had reached its high- 
est point ; but if we arc not mistaken, the exigencies of the 
present season will surpass those of any former year in British 
history." The London Star, of a still later date, says : " Men 
and women die in our streets every day of starvation. Whole 
districts are sinking into one vast, squalid, awful condition of 
helpless, hopeless destitution." 

From many parts of Continental Europe there comes a simi- 
lar cry. A few weeks since, the Secretary of State laid before 
this body a letter from the American Minister at Copenhagen, 
appealing to this country for contributions for the relief of the 
suffering poor of Sweden and Norway. A late Berlin paper 
says, " Business is at a stand-still, and privation and suffering 
are everywhere seen." The inhabitants of Eastern Prussia are 
appealing to the German citizens of the United States for imme- 
diate relief. In Russia the horrors of pestilence are added to 
the sufferings of famine. In Finland the peasants are dying of 
starvation by hundreds. In some parts of France and Spain 
the scarcity is very great. In Northern Africa the suffering 
is still greater. In Algiers the deaths by starvation are so 


numerous that the victims are buried in trenches like the slain 
on a battle-field. In Tunis eigjit thousand have thus perished 
in two months. The United States Consul at that place writes 
that on the 27th of December two hundred people starved to 
death in the streets of that city, and the average daily deaths 
from starvation exceed one hundred. 

Our sadness at the contemplation of this picture is mingled 
with indignation, when we reflect that at the present moment, 
in the eight principal nations of Europe, there are three million 
men under arms at an annual cost of nearly a thousand million 
dollars, — an expense which in twenty years would pay every 
national debt in Christendom. And this only the peace estab- 
lishment! While Napoleon is feeding fifty thousand starving 
Frenchmen daily from the soup kitchens of the imperial palace, 
he is compelling the French legislature to double his army. 
Whatever distress our people may be suffering, they have reason 
to be thankful that the bloody monster called the "balance of 
power" has never cast its shadow upon our country. We have 
reason, indeed, to be thankful that our people are suffering less 
than the people of any other nation. But the distress here is 
unusual for us. It is seen in the depression of business, the 
stagnation of trade, the high price of provisions, and the great 
difficulty which laboring men encounter in finding employment. 
It is said that during the past winter seventy-five thousand 
laborers in New York City have been unable to find employ- 
ment The whole industry of the States lately in rebellion is 
paralyzed, and in many localities the cry of hunger is heard. 
It is the imperative duty of Congress to ascertain the cause 
of this derangement of our industrial forces, and apply whatever 
remedy legislation can afford. The field is a broad one, the 
subject is many-sided ; but our first step should be to ascertain 
the facts of our situation. 

I shall direct my remarks on this occasion to but one fea- 
ture of our legislation. I propose to discuss the currency, 
and its relation to the revenue and business prosperity of the 

In April, 1861, there began in this country an industrial 
revolution, not yet completed, as gigantic in its proportions 
and as far-reaching in its consequences as the political and 
military revolution through which we have passed. As the 
first step to any intelligent discussion of the currency, it is 


necessary to examine the character and progress of that indus- 
trial revolution. ^ 

The year i860 was one of remarkable prosperity in all 
branches ot business. For seventy years no Federal tax- 
gatherer had been seen among the laboring population of the 
United States. Our public debt was less than sixty-five million 
dollars. The annual expenditures of the government, including 
interest on the public debt, were less than sixty-four million 
dollars. The revenues from customs alone amounted to six 
sevenths of the expenditures. The value of our agricultural 
products for that year amounted to $i,625,ocx),ooo. Our cotton 
crop alone was 2,155,000,000 pounds, and we supplied to the 
markets of the world seven eighths of all the cotton consumed. 
Our merchant marine, engaged in foreign trade, amounted 
to 2,546,237 tons, and promised soon to rival the immense 
carrying trade of England. 

Let us now observe the effect of the war on the various 
departments of business. From the moment the first hostile 
gun was fired, the Federal and State governments became gi- 
gantic consumers. As far as production was concerned, eleven 
States were completely separated from the Union. Two mil- 
lion laborers — more than one third of the adult population of 
the Northern States — were withdrawn from the ranks of pro- 
ducers, and became only consumers of wealth. The Federal 
governrtient became an insatiable devourer. Leaving out of 
account the vast sums expended by States, counties, cities, 
towns, and individuals for the payment of bounties, for the 
relief of sick and wounded soldiers and their families, and 
omitting the losses — which can never be estimated — of prop- 
erty destroyed by hostile armies, I shall speak only of ex- 
penditures which appear on the books of the Federal Treasury. 
From the 30th of June, 1 861, to the 30th of June, 1865, there 
were paid out of the Federal treasury $3,340,996,21 1, making 
an average for these four years of more than $836,000,000 per 

From the official records of the Treasury Department it 
appears that, from the beginning of the American Revolution 
in 1775 to the beginning of the late rebellion, the total ex- 
penditures of the government for all purposes, including the 
Assumed war debts of the States, amounted to $2,250,000,000. 
The expenditures of four years of the rebellion were nearly 


$i,ioo,ocx>,(XX) more than all the Federal expenses since the 
Declaration of Independence. The debt of England, which 
had its origin in the Revolution of 1688, and was increased by 
more than one hundred years of war and other political disas- 
ters, had reached in 1793 the sum of $1,268,000,000. During 
the twenty-two years that followed, while England was engaged 
in a life and death struggle with Napoleon, $3,056,000,000 was 
added to her debt. In four years we spent $300,000,000 more 
than the amount by which England increased her debt in twenty- 
two years of war, — almost as much as she had increased it in 
one hundred and twenty-five years of war. Now, the enormous 
demand which this expenditure created for all the products of 
industry stimulated to an unparalleled degree every depart- 
ment of business. Plough, furnace, mill, loom, railroad, steam- 
boat, telegraph, — all were driven to their utmost capacity. 
Warehouses were emptied; and the great reserves of supply, 
which all nations in a normal state keep on hand, were ex- 
hausted to meet the demands of the great consumer. For many 
months the government swallowed three millions per day of the 
products of industry. Under the pressure of this demand, prices 
rose rapidly in every department of business. Labor everywhere 
found quick and abundant returns. Old debts were cancelled, 
and great fortunes were made. 

For the transaction of this enormous business an increased 
amount of currency was needed ; but I doubt if any member 
of this House can be found bold enough to deny that the 
deluge of treasury notes poured upon the country during the 
war was far greater than even the great demands of business. 
Let it not be forgotten, however, that the chief object of these 
issues was not to increase the currency of the country. They 
were authorized with great reluctance and under the pressure 
of ovenvhelming necessity, as a temporary expedient to meet 
the demands of the treasury. They were really forced loans 
in the form of treasury notes. By the act of July 17, 1861, 
an issue of demand notes was authorized to the amount of 
$50,000,000. By the act of August 5, 1861, this amount was 
increased $50,000,000 more. By the act of February 25, 1862, 
an additional issue of $150,000,000 was authorized. On the 
17th of the same month an unlimited issue of fractional cur- 
rency was authorized. On the 17th of January, 1863, an issue 

of $150,000,000 more was authorized, which was increased 
voL.»i. 19 



$50,ocx),(XX) by the act of March 3 of the same year. This 
act also authorized the issue of one and two years' Treasury 
notes, bearing interest at five per cent, to be a legal tender for 
their face, to the amount of $400,ocx),ooo. By the act of June 
30, 1864, an issue of six per cent compound-interest notes, to 
be a legal tender for their face, was authorized, to the amount 
of $200,000,000. In addition to this, many other forms of 
paper obligation were authorized, which, though not a legal 
tender, performed many of the functions of currency. By the 
act of March i, 1862, the issue of an unlimited amount of cer- 
tificates of indebtedness was authorized, and within ninety days 
after the passage of the act, there had been issued and were 
outstanding of these certificates more than $156,000,000. Of 
course these issues were not all outstanding at the same time, 
but the acts show how great was the necessity for loans during 
the war. 

The law which made the vast volume of United States notes 
a legal tender operated as an act of general bankruptcy. The 
man who loaned $1,000 in July, 1861, payable in three years, 
was compelled by this law to accept at maturity, as a full dis- 
charge of the debt, an amount of currency equal in value to 
$350 of the money he loaned. Private indebtedness was every- 
where cancelled. Rising prices increased the profits of business ; 
but this prosperity was caused by the great demand for pro- 
ducts, and not by the abundance of paper money. As a means 
of transacting the vast business of the country, a great volume 
of currency was indispensable; and its importance cannot be 
well overestimated. But let us not be led into the fatal error 
of supposing that paper money created the business or pro- 
duced the wealth. As well might it be alleged that our rivers 
and canals produce the grain which they float to market. Like 
currency, the channels of commerce stimulate production, but 
cannot nullify the inexorable law of demand and supply. 

Mr. Chairman, I have endeavored to trace the progress of 
our industrial revolution in passing from peace to war. In 
returning from war to peace all the conditions were reversed. 
At once the government ceased to be an all-devouring con- 
sumer. Nearly two million able-bodied men were discharged 
from the army and navy, and enrolled in the ranks of the pro- 
ducers. The expenditures of the government, which for the 
fiscal year ending June 30, 1865, amounted to $1,290,000,000, 


were reduced to $520,cxx),cxx) in 1866, to $346,000,000 in 1867; 
and, if the retrenchment measures recommended by the Special 
Commissioner of the Revenue, be adopted, another year will 
bring them below $300,000,000. Thus during the first year 
after the war the demands of the Federal government as a 
consumer decreased sixty per cent; and in the second year 
the decrease had reached seventy-four per cent, with a fair 
prospect of a still further reduction. 

The recoil of this sudden change would have produced great 
financial disaster in 1866, but for the fact that there was still 
open to industry the work of replacing the wasted reserves of 
supply, which in all countries in a healthy state of business are 
estimated to be sufficient for two years. During 1866, the fall 
in price of all articles of industry amounted to an average of 
ten per cent. One year ago a table was prepared at my request 
by Mr. Edward Young, in the office of the Special Commis- 
sioner of the Revenue, exhibiting a comparison of wholesale 
prices at New York in December, 1865, and December, 1866. 
It shows that in ten leading articles of provisions there was an 
average decline of twenty-two per cent, though beef, together 
with flour and other breadstuffs, remained nearly stationary. 
On cotton and woollen goods, boots, shoes, and clothing, the de- 
cline was thirty per cent. On the products of manufacture and 
mining, including coal, cordage, iron, lumber, naval stores, oils, 
tallow, tin, and wool, the decline was twenty-five per cent. The 
average decline on all commodities was at least ten per cent. 
According to the estimates of the Special Commissioner of the 
Revenue in his late report, the average decline during 1867 has 
amounted to at least ten per cent more. During the past two 
years, Congress has provided by law for reducing internal taxa- 
tion $100,000,000; and the act passed a few weeks ago has 
reduced the tax on manufactures by the amount of $64,000,000 
per annum. The repeal of the cotton tax will make a further 
reduction of $20,000,000. State and municipal taxation and 
expenditures have also been greatly reduced. The work of 
replacing these reserves delayed the shock and distributed its 
effects, but could not avert the inevitable result. During the 
past two years, one by one, the various departments of indus- 
try produced a supply equal to the demand. Then followed a 
glutted market, a fall in prices, and a stagnation of business by 
which thousands of laborers were thrown out of employment. 


If to this it be added that the famine in Europe and the 
viuMi^Kt in many of the s^cultural States of the Union have 
kv|>< Uic price of provisions from falling as other commodities 
haY« £adkii> we shall have a sufficient explanation of the stag- 
OA^iott of business and the unusual distress among our people. 

Thi^ industrial revolution has been governed by laws beyond 
|hc reach of Congress. No legislation could have arrested it 
4t ;iU)y stage of its progress. The most that could possibly be 
J^.>1K'' by Congress was to take advantage of the prosperity it 
vHN*aoncd to raise a revenue for the support of the government, 
4IkI to nnitigate the severity of its subsequent pressure, by 
ivxlucing the vast machinery of war to the lowest scale possible. 
Manifestly, nothing can be more absurd than to suppose that 
^hv^ abundance of currency produced the prosperity of 1863, 
li^% and 1865, or that the want of it is the cause of our 
^uvs&ont stagnation. 

In onler to reach a satisfactory understanding of th6 currency 
question, it is necessary to consider somewhat fully the nature 
^nsl functions of money, or any substitute for it. 

The theory of money which formed the basis of the " mer- 
cantile system " of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries has 
Uvn rejected by all leading financiers and political economists 
\\\x the last seventy-five years. That theory asserted that 
uuMU*y is wealth ; that the great object of every nation should 
tu* to increase its amount of gold and silver ; that this was a 
slireet increase of national wealth. It is now held as an indis- 
|MitabIe truth, that money is an instrument of trade, and pcr- 
|\nins but two functions. It is a measure of value and a medium 
\if exchange. 

In cases of simple barter, where no money is used, we esti- 
nuite the relative values of the commodities to be exchanged 
in dollars and cents, it being our only universal measure of 
value. As a medium of exchange, money is to all business 
transactions what ships are to the transportation of merchandise. 
If a hundred vessels of a given tonnage are just sufficient to 
carry all the commodities between two ports, any increase of 
the number of vessels will correspondingly decrease the value 
of each as an instrument of commerce ; any decrease below one 
hundred will correspondingly increase the value of each. If the 
number be doubled, each will carry but half its usual freight, 
will be worth but half its former value for that trade. There is 



so much work to be done, and no more. A hundred vessels can 
do it all. A thousand can do no more than all. The functions 
of money as a medium of exchange, though more complicated 
in their application, are precisely the same in principle as the 
functions of the vessels in the case I have supposed. 

If we could ascertain the total value of all the exchanges 
effected in this country by means of money in any year, and 
could ascertain how many dollars* worth of such exchanges can 
be effected in a year by one dollar in money, we should know 
how much money the country needed for the business transac- 
tions of that year. Any decrease below that amount will cor- 
respondingly increase the value of each dollar as an instrument 
of exchange. Any increase above that amount will corre- 
spondingly decrease the value of each dollar. If that amount 
be doubled, each dollar of the whole mass will perform but half 
the amount of business it did before ; will be worth but half its 
former value as a medium of exchange.* Recurring to our illus- 
tration : if, instead of sailing-vessels, steam-vessels were substi- 
tuted, a much smaller tonnage would be required ; so, if it were 
found that $500,000,000 of paper, each worth seventy cents in 
gold, were sufficient for the business of the country, it is equally 
evident that $350,000,000 of gold substituted for the paper 
would perform precisely the same amount of business. 

It should be remembered, also, that any improvement in the 
mode of transacting business, by which the actual use of money 
is in part dispensed with, reduces the total amount needed by 
the country. How much has been accomplished in this direc- 
tion by recent improvements in banking, may be seen in the 
operations of the clearing-houses in our great cities. The rec- 
ords of the New York clearing-house show that from October 
II, 1853, the date of its establishment, to October 11, 1867, 
the exchanges amounted to nearly $180,000,000,000; to effect 
which, less than $8,000,000,000 of money were used ; an aver- 
age of about four per cent; that is, exchanges were made to 
the amount of $100,000,000 by the payment of $4,000,000 of 
money. It is also a settled principle, that all deposits in banks 
drawn upon by checks and drafts really serve the purpose of 

The amount of currency needed in the country depends, as 
we have seen, upon the amount of business transacted by means 
of money. The amount of business, however, is varied by 

294 '^^^ CURRENCY. 

many causes which are irregular and uncertain in their opera- 
tion. An Indian war, deficient or abundant harvests, an over- 
flow of the cotton lands of the South, a bread famine or a war 
in Europe, and a score of such causes entirely beyond the reach 
of legislation, may make money deficient this year and abun- 
dant next. The needed amount varies, also, from month to 
month in the same year. More money is required in the au- 
tumn, when the vast products of agriculture are being moved 
to market, than when the great army of laborers are in winter 
quarters, awaiting the seedtime. 

When the money of the country is gold and silver, it adapts 
itself to the fluctuations of business without the aid of legisla- 
tion. If, at any time, we have more than is needed, the surplus 
flows off to other countries through the channels of international 
commerce. If less, the deficiency is supplied through the same 
channels. Thus the monetary equilibrium is maintained. So 
immense is the trade of the world, that the golden streams pour- 
ing from California and Australia into the specie circulation are 
soon absorbed in the great mass and equalized throughout the 
world, as the waters of all the rivers are spread upon the sur- 
face of all the seas. Not so, however, with an inconvertible 
paper currency. Excepting the specie used in payment of cus- 
toms and the interest on our public debt, we are cut off from 
the money currents of the world. Our currency resembles 
rather the waters of an artificial lake, which lie in stagnation or 
rise to full banks at the caprice of the gate-keeper. Gold and 
silver abhor depreciated paper money, and will not keep com- 
pany with it. If our currency be more abundant than business 
demands, not a dollar of it can go abroad ; if deficient, not a 
dollar of gold will come in to supply the lack. There is no 
legislature on earth wise enough to adjust such a currency to 
the wants of the country. 

Let us examine more minutely the effect of such a currency 
upon prices. Suppose that the business transactions of the 
country at the present time require $350,000,000 in gold. It 
is manifest that if there are just $350,000,000 of legal-tender 
notes, and no other money in the country, each dollar will per- 
form the full functions of a gold dollar, so far as the work of 
exchange is concerned. Now, business remaining the same, let 
$350,000,000 more of the same kind of notes be pressed into 
circulation. The whole volume, as thus increased, can do no 


more than all the business. Each dollar will accomplish just 
half the work that a dollar did before the increase ; but as the 
nominal dollar is fixed by law, the effect is shown in prices be- 
ing doubled. It requires two of these dollars to make the same 
purchase that one dollar made before the increase. It would 
require some time for the business of the country to adjust itself 
to the new conditions, and great derangement of values would 
ensue; but the result would at last be reached in all transac- 
tions which are controlled by the law of demand and supply. 

No such change of values can occur without cost Somebody 
must pay for it. Who pays in this case? We have seen that 
doubling the currency finally results in reducing the purchasing 
power of each dollar one half; hence every man who held a 
legal-tender note at the time of the increase, and continued to 
hold it till the full effect of the increase was produced, suffered 
a loss of fifty per cent of its value ; in other words, he paid a 
tax to the amount of half of all the currency in his possession. 
This new issue, therefore, by depreciating the value of all the 
currency, cost the holders of the old issue $i75,ooo,cxx); and if 
the new notes were received at their nominal value at the date 
of issue, their holders paid a tax of $175,000,000 more. No 
more unequal or unjust mode of taxation could possibly be de- 
vised. It would be tolerated only by being so involved in the 
transactions of business as to be concealed from observation ; 
but it would be no less real because hidden. 

But some one may say, " This depreciation would fall upon 
capitalists and rich men who are able to bear it." If this 
were true, it would be no less unjust. But, unfortunately, the 
capitalists would suffer less than any other class. The new issue 
would be paid in the first place in large amounts to the creditors 
of the government; it would pass from their hands before the 
depreciation had taken full effect, and, passing down step by 
step through the ranks of middle-men, the dead weight would 
fall at last upon the laboring classes in the increased price of all 
the necessaries of life. It is well known that, in a general rise 
of prices, wages are among the last to rise. This principle was 
illustrated in the report of the Special Commissioner of the 
Revenue for the year i866. It is there shown that from the 
beginning of the war to the end of 1866 the average price of all 
commodities had risen ninety per cent. Wages, however, had 
risen but sixty per cent. A day's labor would purchase but two 


thirds as much of the necessaries of life as it did before. The 
wrong is therefore inflicted on the laborer long before his in- 
come can be adjusted to his increased expenses. It was in view 
of this truth that Daniel Webster said in one of his ablest 
speeches : " Of all the contrivances for cheating the laboring 
classes of mankind, none has been more effectual than that 
which deludes them with paper money. This is the most effect- 
ual of inventions to fertilize the rich man's field by the sweat of 
the poor man's brow. Ordinary tyranny, oppression, excessive 
taxation, — these bear lightly on the happiness of the mass of 
the community, compared with a fraudulent currency and the 
robberies committed by depreciated paper." ^ 

The fraud committed and the burdens imposed upon the 
people, in the case we have supposed, would be less intolerable 
if all business transactions could be really adjusted to the new 
conditions; but even this is impossible. All debts would be 
cancelled, all contracts fulfilled, by payment in these notes, — 
not at their real value, but for their face. All salaries fixed by 
law, the pay of every soldier in the army, of every sailor in the 
navy, and all pensions and bounties, would be reduced to half 
their former value. In these cases the effect is only injurious. 
Let it never be forgotten that every depreciation of our cur- 
rency results in robbing the one hundred and eighty thousand 
pensioners, maimed heroes, crushed and bereaved widows, and 
homeless orphans, who sit helpless at our feet. And who would 
be benefited by this policy? A pretence of apology might be 
offered for it if the government could save what the people lose. 
But the system lacks the support of even that selfish and im- 
moral consideration. The depreciation caused by the over-issue 
in the case wc have supposed, compels the government to pay 
just that per cent more on all the contracts it makes, on all the 
loans it negotiates, on all the supplies it purchases; and to 
crown all, it must at last redeem all its legal-tender notes in gold 
coin, dollar for dollar. And yet the advocates of repudiation 
have been bold enough to deny this ! 

I have thus far considered the influence of a redundant paper 
currency on the country when its trade and industry are in a 
healthy and normal state. I now call attention to its effect in 
producing an unhealthy expansion of business, in stimulating 
speculation and extravagance, and in laying the sure foundation 

1 Works. Vol. III. p. 395. 


of commercial revulsion and wide-spread ruin. This principle 
is too well understood to require any elaboration here. The 
history of all modern nations is full of examples. One of the 
ablest American writers on banks and banking, Mr. Gouge, thus 
sums up the result of his researches: "The history of all our 
bank pressures and panics has been the same, in 1825, in 1837, 
and in 1 843 ; and the cause is given in these two simple words, 
universal expansion." And such is the testimony of all the 
highest authorities. 

There still remains to be considered the effect of depreciated 
currency on our trade with other nations. By raising prices at 
home higher than they are abroad, imports are largely increased 
beyond the exports ; our coin goes abroad, or, what is far worse 
for us, our bonds, which have also suffered depreciation, go 
abroad, and are purchased by foreigners at seventy cents on the 
dollar. During the whole period of high prices occasioned by 
the war, gold and bonds have been steadily going abroad, not- 
withstanding our tariff duties, which average nearly fifty per cent 
ad valorem. More than five hundred million dollars of our bonds 
are now held in Europe, ready to be thrown back upon us when 
any war or other sufficient disturbance shall occur. No tariff 
rates short of actual prohibition can prevent this outflow of gold 
while our currency is thus depreciated. During these years, also, 
our merchant marine steadily decreased, and our shipbuilding 
interests were nearly ruined. Our tonnage engaged in foreign 
trade, which amounted in 1859-60 to more than two and a half 
million tons, had fallen in 1865-66 to less than one and a half 
millions, a decrease of more than fifty per cent ; and prices of 
labor and material are still too hfgh to enable our shipwrights 
to compete with foreign builders. 

From the facts already exhibited in reference to our industrial 
revolution, and from the foregoing analysis of the nature and 
functions of currency, it is manifest, — 

1. That the remarkable prosperity of all industrial enter- 
prise during the war was not caused by the abundance of cur- 
rency, but by the unparalleled demand for every product of 

2. That the great depression of business, the stagnation of 
trade, the hard times which have prevailed during the past 
year, and which still prevail, have not been caused by an insuffi- 
cient amount of currency, but mainly by the great falling off of 



the demand for all the products of labor compared with the 
increased supply since the return from war to peace. 

I should be satisfied to rest on these propositions without 
further argument, were it not that the declaration is so often and 
so confidently made by members of this House, that there is not 
only no excess of currency, but that there is not enough for the 
business of the country. I subjoin a table, carefully made up 
from the official records, showing the amount of paper money 
in the United States at the beginning of each year from 1834 to 
1868, inclusive. The fractions of millions are omitted. 





1834 . . 


1843 • 

• 59 

1852 . 

. 150 

1861 . 


183s . • 


1844 . 

• 75 

1853 . 


1862 . 

. 218 

1836 . . 


1845 . 

• 90 

1854 . 


1863 . . 


1837 . . 

- 149 

1846 . 

. 105 

1855 . 

. 187 

1864 . 

. 636 

1838 . 

. 116 

1847 ■ 

. 106 

1856 . 

. 196 

1865 . 


1839 . 

• '35 

1848 . 

. 129 

1857 . 

. 215 

1866 . 

. 919 

1840 . . 

. 107 

1849 • 

. 115 

1858 . 

• '35 

1867 . 

. 852 

I84I . 

. 107 

1850 . 

• 13' 

1859 . . 


1868 . 


1842 . 

. 84 

1851 . 

• '55 

i860 . . 


To obtain a full exhibit of the circulating medium of the 
country for these years, it would be necessary to add to the 
above the amount of coin in circulation each year. This amount 
cannot be ascertained with accuracy ; but it is the opinion of 
those best qualified to judge that there was about $200,000,000 
of gold and silver coin in the United States at the beginning 
of the rebellion. It is officially known that the amount held 
by the banks from i860 to 1863 inclusive averaged about 
$97,000,000. Including bank reserves, the total circulation of 
coin and paper never exceeded $400,000,000 before the war. 
Excluding the bank reserves, the amount was never much above 
$300,000,000. During the twenty-six years preceding the war, 
the average bank circulation was less than $139,000,000. 

It is estimated that the amount of coin now in the United 
States is not less than $250,000,000. When it is remembered 
that there are now $106,000,000 of coin in the Treasury, that 
customs duties and interest on the public debt are paid in coin 
alone, and that the currency of the States and Territories of the 
Pacific coast is wholly metallic, it will be seen that a large sum 
of gold and silver must be added to the volume of paper cur- 
rency in order to ascertain the whole amount of our circula- 
tion. It cannot be successfully controverted that the gold, 


silver, and paper used as money in this country at this time 
amount to $i,ooo,cxx),cxx). If we subtract from this amount our 
bank reserves, — which amounted on the ist of January last to 
$162,500,000, and also the cash in the national treasury, which 
at that time amounted to $134,000,000, — we still have left in 
active circulation more than seven hundred million dollars. 

It rests with those who assert that our present amount of 
currency is insufficient, to show that one hundred and fifty per 
cent more currency is now needed for the business of the coun- 
try than was needed in i860. To escape this difficulty, it has 
been asserted by some honorable members that the country 
never had currency enough, and that credit was substituted 
before the war to supply the lack of money. It is a perfect 
answer to this that in many of the States a system of free bank- 
ing prevailed ; and such banks pushed into circulation all the 
money they could find a market for. 

The table I have submitted shows how perfect an index the 
currency is of the healthy or unhealthy condition of business, 
and that every great financial crisis for the period covered by 
the table has been preceded by a great increase and followed by 
a great and sudden decrease in the volume of paper money. 
The rise and fall of mercury in the barometer is not more surely 
indicative of an atmospheric storm than a sudden increase or 
decrease of currency is indicative of financial disaster. Within 
the period covered by the table there were four financial and 
commercial crises in this country. They occurred in 1837, 
1841, 1854, and 1857. Now observe the change in the volume 
of paper currency for those years. 

On the 1st day of January, 1837, ^^ amount had risen to 
$149,000,000, an increase of nearly fifty per cent in three years. 
Before the end of that year, the reckless expansion, speculation, 
and overtrading which caused the increase, had resulted in terri- 
ble collapse; and on the ist of January, 1838, the volume was 
reduced to $1 16,000,000. Wild lands, which speculation had 
raised to fifteen and twenty dollars per acre, fell to one dollar and 
a half and two dollars, accompanied by a corresponding depres- 
sion in all branches of business. Immediately after the crisis of 
1841 the bank circulation decreased twenty-five percent, and by 
the end of 1842 was reduced to $58,500,000, a decrease of nearly 
fifty per cent. 

At the beginning of 1853 the amount was $146,000,000. 



S|>cciiIation and expansion had swelled it to $205,000,000 by 
the end of that year, and thus introduced .the crash of 1854. 
At the beginning of 1857 the paper money of the country 
reuched its highest point of inflation up to that time. There 
wuii nearly $2 1 5 »ooo,ooo, but at the end of that disastrous year 
the volume had fallen to $135,000,000, a decrease of nearly forty 
per cent in less than twelve months. In the great crashes pre- 
ceding 1837 the same conditions are invariably seen, — great 
expansion, followed by a violent collapse, not only in paper 
money, but in loans and discounts ; and those manifestations 
have always been accompanied by a corresponding fluctuation 
in prices. In the great crash of 18 19, one of the severest this 
country ever sufiered, there was a complete prostration of busi- 
ness. It is recorded in Niles's Register for 1820 that in that 
year an Ohio miller sold four barrels of flour to raise five dol- 
lars, the amount of his subscription to that paper. Wheat was 
twenty cents per bushel and corn ten cents. About the same 
time Mr. Jefferson wrote to Nathaniel Macon : " We have now 
no standard of value. I am asked eighteen dollars for a yard of 
broadcloth which, when we had dollars, I used to get for eighteen 

But the advocates of paper-money expansion answer us : It 
makes no difference what your reasoning may be ; we allege the 
fact that there is great stringency in our money market, great 
depression in business, and the high rate of interest everywhere 
demanded, especially in the West, proves conclusively that an 
increase of currency is needed. 

The relation of business to the supply of money and to the 
rate of interest has never been so strikingly illustrated as in 
the financial and business history of Europe during the past 
two years. At the beginning of 1866 there was great activity 
and apparent prosperity in the business of Europe. It was a 
period of speculation and overtrading. About the middle of 
that year the depression commenced, which has continued and 
increased till now, when the distress is greater and more wide- 
spread than it has been for a quarter of a century. From May, 
1866, to the present time, the rate of interest in the principal 
money centres of Europe has been steadily decreasing. The 
following table, collated from the London Economist, exhibits 
the fact that the average decline in nine kingdoms of Europe is 
fifty per cent. 




May, 1866. 
Per cent. 

London 7 

Paris 4 

Berlin 5 

Vienna 7 

Frankfort .... 6 

Amsterdam . . . 6^ 

March, 1868. 
Per cent 





May, 1866. March, 1868. 
Per cent. Per cent. 

Turin . . . 
Madrid . . . 
Brussels . . 
Hamburg . . 
St. Petersburg 








It will be noticed that the rate is lowest in specie-paying 
countries, and highest where there is a large volume of depre- 
ciated paper money, as in Russia, Spain, and Italy. But the 
important fact exhibited in this table is, that as commercial 
distress has increased, the rate of interest has decreased, and 
that hard times have been accompanied by an abundant sup- 
ply of money. It would be as reasonable for an Englishman 
to assert that the distress and stagnation of business there 
has been caused by the plethora of money and the low rate of 
interest, as for us to claim that our distress is caused by an in- 
sufficient currency and a high rate of interest. There, as here, 
the distress was caused by overproduction and overtrading. 
England thought to grow rich out of our misfortunes, and, in her 
greed, overreached herself and brought misery and ruin upon 
millions of her people. As a specimen of her crazy expansion 
of business, witness the fact that in the years 1863, 1864, and 
1865, in addition to all other enterprises, there were organized 
eight hundred and thirty-two joint-stock companies, with an 
authorized capital of ;^363,ooo,cxx) sterling. During 1866 and 
1867, there were organized but seventy-one such companies, 
with an authorized capital of less than ;^ 16,500,000 sterling. 

The Bankers' Magazine of London, for May, 1867, says: 
** In the vaults of the Bank of England, the Bank of France, 
and in Amsterdam, Frankfort, Hamburg, and Berlin, there are 
^75,000,000; the rate of discount averages three per cent, 
and is tending downward ; yet in each and every one of these 
cities complaints of the scarcity of money were never more 
rife." At the end of 1867, the same Magazine says, there were 
^^23, 500,000 sterling gold in the Bank of England, besides 
j^i4,ooo,ooo of coin and paper reserves, but " not the slightest 
life in trade." The London Times of December 20, 1867, says: 
" We are now paying the penalty of wild speculation and over- 
trading. For eighteen months, all but the ordinary business of 


the country is at a stand-still Millions on millions an 

lying useless in the various banks of the country because the 
owners of the money cannot yet prevail upon themselves tc 
trust it in any of the ordinary investments." 

From these facts it is evident that those who attribute oui 
hard times to a reduction of the currency will find themselve* 
unable to explain the hard times in Europe. 

We are constantly reminded that the country was prosperous 
at the beginning of 1866, before the currency was reduced, bu 
is in distress since the reduction; and these two facts are as- 
sumed to sustain the relation to each other of cause and effect 
Now let it be observed that since January, 1866, the volume o 
paper currency has been reduced sixteen and a half per cent 
but during the same time there has been an average decline ir 
prices of not less than twenty per cent ; that is, eighty cents ir 
currency will purchase as many commodities now as a dollai 
would two years ago ; and there is eighty-three and a half cents 
in currency now to every dollar then. The gold value of oui 
whole volume of currency in January, 1868, was but three anc 
two thirds per cent less than the gold value of the whole vol 
ume in January, 1866. The advocates of expansion shoulc 
prove that there has been a reduction in the purchasing powei 
of our currency before they deplore the fact. 

That there is an apparent stringency in our money markei 
generally, and a relative scarcity of currency in the VVest, can- 
not be doubted. During the past winter, especially, it has beer 
and still is very difficult in the West to obtain money on gooc 
business paper. The causes of this are to be found in the 
improper adjustment of our financial machinery, and in the 
great uncertainty attending our financial legislation. It is i 
Well-settled principle that an irredeemable currency tends tc 
find its way to the money centres, and stay there. Most unfor- 
tunately for the interest of the country, the national banks have 
been allowed to receive interest on the deposits they make ir 
the banks at the great money centres. Most of the country 
banks, therefore, send all their surplus funds to New York, anc 
will not loan money unless they can receive a higher rate thar 
is paid them there. For all practical purposes their notes arc 
equal to greenbacks, and they are never called upon to redeerr 
them. Thus we have a plethora of money in New York and a 
few other cities, and a scarcity in the country. We are finan- 


cially in the condition of a sick man suffering with congestive 
chilis ; the blood rushes to the heart, and leaves the extremities 
chilled and paralyzed. 

The fluctuation of values caused by the uncertainty of our 
situation offers a great temptation to engage in stock and gold 
speculation ; and hence men who would otherwise be honest 
producers of wealth rush to the gold-room or the stock-market 
and become the most desperate of gamblers, putting up for- 
tunes to be lost or won on the chances of a day. These men 
pay enormous margins on their purchases and extravagant 
interest on their loans. There are tons of paper money at the 
great commercial centres, to which it flows from all quarters to 
meet the insane demands of Wall Street. Recently a clique of 
these operators locked up $25,000,000 of greenbacks, and upon 
them, as a special deposit, borrowed $20,000,000 more for the 
purpose of creating a sudden stringency in the money market 
and placing gold and stocks at their mercy. The vast amount 
of money daily loaned on call in Wall Street, at a high rate of 
interest, shows how the currency of the country is being used. 
So long as the national government takes no steps toward re- 
deeming its own paper, so long will there be nothing to call 
the notes of the country banks back home ; so long will there 
be no healthy and equal circulation of the currency. If 
$200,000,000 more currency were now issued, I do not doubt 
that within two months there would be the same want of money 
in the rural districts that now prevails. The surplus would flow 
to the money centres, and the increased prices would make our 
condition worse than before. It ought not to be forgotten that 
while the capitalist and speculator are able to take advantage 
of fluctuations in prices, the poor man has no such power. 
The necessities of life he must buy day by day, whatever the 
price may be. He offers for sale only his labor. That he must 
sell each day. or it will be wholly lost. He is absolutely at 
the mercy of the market. 

But the most serious evil growing out of the condition of our 
currency is the fact that we have now no fixed and determinate 
standard, of value. It is scarcely possible to exaggerate this 
evil. If a snowball, made at the beginning of winter and ex- 
posed to freezing and thawing, snowfall and rainfall, weighed 
every day at noon, were made the lawful pound avoirdupois for 
this country during the winter, we can hardly conceive the con- 


fusion and injustice that would attend all transactions depending 
on weight. The evil, however, would not be universal. Linear, 
liquid, and many other measures would not be affected by it. 
But a change of the money standard reaches all values. No 
transaction escapes. The money unit is the universal measure 
of value throughout the world. Since the dawn of civilization, 
the science, the art, the statesmanship of the world, have been 
put in requisition to devise and maintain an unvarying, and, as 
far as possible, an invariable standard. For thousands of years 
gold and silver of a certain weight and fineness have been 
adopted as the nearest approach to perfection; but even the 
slight variation in value to which coin is subject from clipping 
and wear has brought nations to the verge of revolution. No 
one can read Macaulay's account of the recoinage in England, in 
the days of William and Mary, without perceiving how directly 
the happiness and prosperity of a nation depend upon the 
stability of its money unit. He says, " It may well be doubted 
whether all the misery which had been inflicted on the English 
nation in a quarter of a century by bad kings, bad ministers, 
bad Parliaments, and bad judges, was equal to the misery 
caused in a single year by bad crowns and bad shillings.'* ^ 

To rescue the nation from the evils of bad shillings, Newton 
was called from his high realm of discovery, Locke from his 
profound meditations, Somers and Montague from their seats in 
Parliament, and these illustrious men spent months in most 
devoted effort to restore to the realm its standard of value. 
What could now be of greater service to our country than to 
direct its highest wisdom and statesmanship to the restoration 
of our standard? For three quarters of a century the dollar 
has been our universal measure. A coin containing 23^^^ 
grains of pure gold stamped at the national mint has been our- 
only definition of the word dollar. The dollar is the gauge 
that measures every blow of the axe, every swing of the scythe, 
every stroke of the hammer, every fagot that blazes on the 
poor man's hearth, every fabric that clothes his children, every 
mouthful that feeds their hunger. The word dollar is the 
substantive word, — the fundamental condition of every con- 
tract, of every sale, of every payment, whether from the 
national Treasury or from the stand of the apple- woman in the 
street Now, what is our situation? There has been no day 

\ 1 History, Vol. IV. p. 498 (Harper's ed.). 


since the 25th of February, 1862, when any man could tell 
what would be the value of our legal-currency dollar the next 
month or the next day. Since that day we have substituted 
for a dollar the printed promise of the government to pay a 
dollar. That promise we have broken. We have suspended 
payment, and have by law compelled the citizen to receive 
dishonored paper in place of money. The value of the paper 
standard thus forced upon the country by the necessities of the 
war has changed every day, and almost every hour of the day, 
for six years. The value of our paper dollar has passed by 
thousands of fluctuations from one hundred cents to thirty- 
five cents, and back again to seventy. During the war, in the 
midst of high prices and large profits, this fluctuation was tol- 
erable. Now that we are making our way back toward old 
prices and more moderate gains, now that the pressure of hard 
times is upon us, this uncertainty in our standard of value is an 
almost intolerable evil. The currency, not being based upon 
a foundation of real and certain value, and possessing no ele- 
ment of self-adjustment, depends for its market value on a score 
of causes. It is a significant and humiliating fact that the 
business men of the nation are in constant dread of Congress. 
Will Congress increase the currency, or contract it? Will new 
greenbacks be issued with which to take up the bonds, or will 
new bonds be issued to absorb the greenbacks? Will the na- 
tional banking system be perpetuated and enlarged, or will it 
be abolished to enable the general government to turn banker? 
These and a score of kindred questions are agitating the public 
mind, and changing our standard of value with every new turn 
Jn the tide of Congressional opinion. Monday is a dangerous 
day for the business of this country while Congress is in ses- 
sion. The broadside of financial resolutions fired from this 
House on that day could have no such effect as it now produces, 
if our currency were based on a firm foundation. 

Observe how the people pay for this fluctuation of values. 
Importers, wholesale merchants, and manufacturers, knowing 
the uncertainties of trade which result from this changeable 
standard, raise their prices to cover risks ; the same thing is 
done again by retail dealers and middle-men ; and the whole 
burden falls at last upon the consumer, — the laboring man. 
And yet we hear honorable gentlemen singing the praises 

of cheap money ! The vital and incurable evil of an inconvert- 
voL. I. 20 


ible paper currency is that it has no elasticity, — no quality 
whereby it adjusts itself to the necessities and contingencies of 

But there is one quality of such a currency more remarkable 
than all others, — its strange power to delude men. The spells 
and enchantments of legendary witchcraft were hardly so won- 
derful. Most delusions cannot be repeated, — they lose their 
power after a full exposure ; but not so with irredeemable paper 
money. From the days of John Law its history has been a 
repetition of the same story, with only this difference : no nation 
now resorts to its use except from overwhelming necessity ; but 
whenever any nation is fairly embarked, it floats on the delusive 
waves, and, like the lotus-eating companions of Ulysses, wishes 
to return home no more. 

Into this very delusion many of our fellow-citizens and many 
members of this House have fallen. Hardly a member of either 
House of the Thirty-seventh or Thirty-eighth Congress spoke 
on the subject who did not deplore the necessity of resorting 
to inconvertible paper money, and protest against its continu- 
ance a single day beyond the inexorable necessities of the war. 
The remarks of Mr. Fessenden, when he reported the first legal- 
tender bill from the Finance Committee of the Senate, in Feb- 
ruary, 1862, fully exhibit the sentiment of Congress at that time. 
He assured the country that the measure was not to be resorted 
to as a policy ; that it was what it professed to be, a temporary 
expedient; that he agreed with the declaration of the chairman 
of the Committee of Ways and Means of the House, that it was 
not contemplated to issue more than $1 50,000,000 of legal-tender 
notes. Though he aided in passing the bill, he uttered a warning, 
the truth and force of which few then questioned. He said : — 

" All the opinions that I have heard expressed agree in this, that only 
with extreme reluctance, only with fear and trembling as to the conse- 
quences, can we have recourse to a measure like this of making our paper 
a legal tender in the payment of debts 

" All the gentlemen who have spoken on the subject, and all pretty 
much who have written on the subject, except some wild speculators in 
currency, have declared that, as a policy, it would be ruinous to any 
people ; and it has been defended, as I have stated, simply and solely 
upon the ground that it is to be a single measure standing by itself, and 
not to be repeated 

" Again, sir, it necessarily changes the values of all property. It is 
very well known that all over the world gold and silver are recognized as 


money, as currency ; they are the measure of value. We change it here. 
What is the result? Inflation, subsequent depression, — all the evils 
which follow from an inflated currency. They cannot be avoided ; they 
are inevitable ; the consequence is admitted. Although the notes, to be 
sure, pass precisely at par, gold appreciates, property appreciates, — all 
kinds of property." ^ 

This, I repeat, was the almost unanimous sentiment of the 
Thirty-seventh Congress; and though subsequent necessity 
compelled both that and the Thirty-eighth Congress to make 
new issues of paper, yet the danger was always confessed, and 
the policy and purpose of speedy resumption were kept steadily 
in view. So anxious were the members of the Thirty-eighth 
Congress that the temptation to new issues should not over- 
come them or their successors, that they bound themselves by a 
kind of financial temperance pledge that there never should be 
a further increase of legal-tender notes. Witness the following 
clause of the Loan Act of June 30, 1864: — 

"Sec. 2. . . . /y^/V/<f^, That the total amount of bonds and Treasury 
notes authorized by the first and second sections of this act shall not 
excee.d ^400,000,000 in addition to the amounts heretofore issued ; nor 
shall the total amount of United States notes, issued or to be issued, 
ever exceed ^400,000,000, and such additional sum, not exceeding 
$50,000,000, as may be temporarily required for the redemption of 
temporary loan." 

Here is a solemn pledge to the public creditors, a compact 
with them, that the government will never issue non-intcrest- 
paying notes beyond the sum total of $450,000,000. When the 
war ended, the Thirty-ninth Congress, adopting the views of its 
predecessors on this subject, regarded the legal-tender currency 
a part of the war machinery, and proceeded to reduce and with- 
draw it in the same manner in which the army and navy and 
other accompaniments of the war were reduced. Ninety-five 
gentlemen who now occupy seats in this Hall were members of 
this House on the i8th of December, 1865, when it was resolved, 
by a vote of 144 yeas to 6 nays, — 

" That this House cordially concurs in the views of the Secretary of 
the Treasury in relation to the necessity of a contraction of the currency 
with a view to as early a resumption of specie pa)Tnents as the business 
interests of the country will permit ; and we hereby pledge co-operative 
action to this end as speedily as practicable." 

* Congressional Globe, Feb. 12, 1862, pp. 763-765. 


Since the passage of that resolution, the currency has been 
reduced by an amount less than one sixth of its volume, and 
what magic wonders have been wrought in the opinions of mem- 
bers of this House and among the financial philosophers of the 
country? A score of honorable gentlemen have exhausted 
their eloquence in singing the praises of greenbacks. They 
insist that, at the very least. Congress should at once set the 
printing-presses in motion to restore the $70,000,000 of national 
treasure so ruthlessly reduced to ashes by the incendiary torch 
of the Secretary of the Treasury. One, claiming that this would 
be a poor and meagre offering to the offended paper god, intro- 
duces a bill to print and issue $140,000,000 more. The phi- 
losopher of Lewiston, the Democratic representative of the Ninth 
District of Illinois,^ thinks that a new issue of $700,000,000 will 
for the present meet the wants of the country. Another, per- 
ceiving that the national-bank notes are dividing the honors 
with greenbacks, proposes to abolish these offending corpora- 
tions, and, in lieu of their notes, issue $300,000,000 in green- 
backs, and thus increase the active circulation by over one 
hundred millions, — the amount now held as bank reserves. 
And, finally, the Democratic masses of the West are rallying 
under the leadership of the coming man, the young statesman 
of Cincinnati, who proposes to cancel with greenbacks the 
$1,500,000,000 of five-twenty bonds, and with his election to the 
Presidency usher in the full millennial glory of paper money ! 
And this is the same George H. Pendleton who denounced as 
unconstitutional the law which authorized the first issue of 
greenbacks, and concluded an elaborate speech against the 
passage of the bill in 1862 with these words: — 

" You send these notes out into the world stamped with irredeem- 
ability. You put on them the mark of Cain, and, like Cain, they will go 
forth to be vagabonds and fugitives on the earth. What, then, will be 
the consequence ? It requires no prophet to tell what will be their his- 
tory. The currency will be expanded \ prices will be inflated ; fixed 
values will depreciate ; incomes will be diminished ; the savings of the 
poor will vanish ; the hoardings of the \vidow will melt away ; bonds, 
mortgages, and notes, everything of fixed value, will lose their value ; 
everything of changeable value will be appreciated ; the necessaries of 
life will rise in value Contraction will follow. Private ruin and 

public bankruptcy, either with or without repudiation, will inevitably 

1 Mr. Ross. 2 Congressional Globe, Jan. 29, 1862, p. 551. 


The chief cause of this new-born zeal for paper money is the 
same as that which led a member of the Continental Congress 
to exclaim : " Do you think, gentlemen, that I will consent to 
load my constituents with taxes, when we can send to our printer 
and get a wagon-load of money, one quire of which will pay for 
the whole ? " 

The simple fact in the case is that Congress went resolutely 
and almost unanimously forward in the policy of gradual re- 
sumption of specie payments, and a return to the old standard 
of values, until the pressure of falling prices and hard times 
began to be felt; and now many are shrinking from the good 
work they have undertaken, are turning back from the path 
they so worthily resolved to pursue, and are asking Congress to 
plunge the nation deeper than ever into the abyss from which 
it has been struggling so earnestly to escape. Did any reflect- 
ing man suppose it possible for the country to return from the 
high prices, the enormous expansion of business, debt, and 
speculation occasioned by the war, without much depression 
and temporary distress? The wit of man has never devised a 
method by which the vast commercial and industrial interests of 
a nation can suffer the change from peace to war, and from war 
back to peace, without hardship and loss. The homely old 
maxim, " What goes up must come down," applies to our situa- 
tion with peculiar force. The ** coming down " is inevitable. 
Congress can only break the fall and mitigate its evils by ad- 
justing the taxation, the expenditures, and the currency of the 
country to the changed conditions of affairs. This it is our 
duty to do with a firm and steady hand. 

Much of this work has already been done. Our national 
expenditures have been very considerably reduced, but the 
work of retrenching expenditures can go, and should go, much 
further. Very many, perhaps too many, of our national taxes 
have been removed. But if this Congress shall consent to 
break down the dikes, and let in on the country a new flood 
of paper money for the temporary relief of business, we shall 
see all the evils of our present situation return after a few 
months with redoubled force. It is my clear conviction that 
the most formidable danger with which the country is now 
threatened is a large increase in the volume of paper money. 

Shall we learn nothing from experience? Shall the warnings 
of the past be unheeded? What other nation has so painfully 


spelled out, letter by letter and word byword, the terrible mean- 
ing of irredeemable paper money, whether known by the name 
of Colonial bills, Continental currency, or notes of dishonored 
banks? Most of the Colonies had suffered untold evils from 
depreciated paper before the Revolution. Massachusetts issued 
her first bills of credit in 1690 to meet a war debt, and after sixty 
years of vain and delusive efforts to make worthless paper serve 
the purposes of money, found her industry perishing under the 
weight of Colony bills equal in nominal value to $11,000,000, 
which, though made a legal tender and braced up by the sever- 
est laws, were worth but twelve per cent of their face. So in 
1750, under the lead of Hutchinson, a far-sighted and coura- 
geous statesman, she resumed specie payment, cancelled all 
her bills, prohibited by law the circulation of paper money 
within her borders, and made it a crime punishable by a fine of 
£iQO for any Governor to approve any bill to make it a legal 
tender. For the next quarter of a century Massachusetts en- 
joyed the blessings of a sound currency. Rhode Island clung 
to the delusion many years longer. More than one hundred 
pages of Arnold's History of that Colony are devoted to por- 
traying the distress and confusion resulting from this cause 
alone. The history of every Colony that issued bills is a repe- 
tition of the same sad story. 

The financial history of the Revolution is too familiar to need 
repetition here, but there are points in that history of which an 
American Congress cannot be too often reminded. Nowhere 
else were all the qualities of irredeemable paper money so fully 
exhibited. From the first emission of $2,000,000, in 1775, till 
the last, in 1781, when $360,000,000 had been issued, there ap- 
peared to be a purpose, perpetually renewed but always broken, 
to restrict the amount and issue no more. Each issue was to be 
the last. But notwithstanding the enormous volume reluctantly 
put in circulation, our fathers seemed to believe that its value 
could be kept up by legislation. They denounced in resolutions 
of Congress the first depreciation of these bills as the work of 
enemies; and in January, 1776, resolved, **That if any person 
shall hereafter be so lost to all virtue and regard for his coun- 
try as to refuse to receive said bills in payment, etc., he shall 
be treated as an enemy of his country, and precluded from all 
trade or intercourse with the inhabitants of these Colonics." 

But they found before the struggle ended that the inexorable 


laws of value were above human legislation; that resolutions 
cannot nullify the truths of the multiplication table. The bills 
passed nearly at par until the issues exceeded $9,000,000. At 
the end of 1776 they were worth seventy-five per cent of their 
nominal value; at the end of 1777, twenty-five; at the end of 
1778, sixteen; at the end of 1779, two and a half; and at the 
end of 1780 they were worth but one cent on the dollar. Four 
months later $500 in Continental bills was selling for one dollar 
in specie. Pelatiah Webster, in 1 791, said: — 

" The fatal error that the credit and currency of Continental money 
could be kept up and supported by acts of compulsion entered so deep 
into the mind of Congress and of all departments of administration 
through the States, that no considerations of justice, religion, or policy, 
or even experience of its utter inefficacy, could eradicate it : it seemed to 
be a kind of obstinate delirium, totally deaf to every argument drawn 
fh)m justice and right, from its natural tendency and mischief, from 

common sense and even common safety This ruinous principle 

was continued in practice for five successive years, and appeared in all 
shapes and forms, i. e. legal-tender acts, limitations of prices, in awful 
and threatening declarations, in penal laws with dreadful and heinous 

punishments Many thousand families of full and easy fortune were 

ruined by these fatal measures, and lie in ruins to this day, without the 
least benefit to the country, or to the great and noble cause in which 
we were then engaged." * 

In summing up the evils of the Continental currency, after 
speaking of the terrible hardships of the war, the destruction of 
property by the enemy, who at times during its progress held 
eleven out of the thirteen State capitals, Mr. Webster, who had 
seen it all, said : — 

"Yet these evils were not as great as those which were caused by 
Continental money and the consequent irregularities of the financial 
system. We have suffered from this cause more than from every other 
cause of calamity ; it has killed more men ; pervaded and corrupted the 
choicest interests of our country more, and done more injustice than 
even the arms and artifices of our enemies." 

But let it never be forgotten that the fathers of the Revolution 
saw, at last, the fatal error into which they had fallen; and 
even in the midst of their great trials restored to the young 
nation, then struggling for its existence, its standard of value, 
its basis for honest and honorable industry. In 178 1 Robert 

1 Political Essays, etc., (Philadelphia, 1791,) pp. 128, 129, note. 


Morris was appointed Superintendent of Finance. He made a 
return to specie payments the condition of his acceptance ; and 
on the 22d of May Congress declared •* that the calculations of 
the expenses of the present campaign shall be made in solid 
coin " ; and " that, experience having evinced the inefficiency 
of all attempts to support the credit of paper money by com- 
pulsory acts, it is recommended to such States, where laws mak- 
ing paper bills a tender yet exist, to repeal the same." Thus 
were the financial interests of the nation rescued from dishonor 
and utter ruin. 

The state of the currency from the close of the war to the 
establishment of the government under the Constitution was 
most deplorable. The separate States had been seized with the 
mania for paper money, and were rivalling each other in the 
extravagance of their issues and the rigor of their financial 
laws. One by one they were able at last to conquer the evils 
into which paper money had plunged them. In 1786 James 
Madison wrote from Richmond to General Washington the 
joyful news that the Virginia Legislature had, by a majority of 
eighty-four to seventeen, voted "paper money unjust, impolitic, 
destructive of public and private confidence, and of that virtue 
which is the basis of republican government." 

The paper money of Massachusetts was the chief cause of 
Shays's rebellion. The paper money of Rhode Island kept 
that State for several years from coming into the Union. 

Nearly half a century afterwards, Daniel Webster, reviewing 
the financial history of the period now under consideration, 
said : " From the close of the war to the time of the adoption 
of this Constitution, as I verily believe, the people suffered as 
much, except in loss of life, from the disordered state of the 
currency and the prostration of commerce and business, as 
they suffered during the war." 

With such an experience, it is not wonderful that the framers 
of our Constitution should have undertaken to protect their 
descendants from the evils that they had themselves endured. 

By reference to the Madison Papers,^ it will be seen that in 
the first draft of the Constitution there was a clause giving 
Congress the power " to borrow money, and emit bills, on the 
credit of the United States." On the i6th of August, 1787, on 
the final revision, Gouverneur Morris moved to strike out the 

> Elliot's Debates, Vol. V. pp. 130, 378. 


clause authorizing the emission of bills. Mr. Madison thought 
it would be sufficient to forbid their being made a tender. Mr. 
Ellsworth "thought this a favorable moment to shut and bar 
the door against paper money. The mischiefs of the various 
experiments which had been made were now^ fresh in the public 
mind, and had excited the disgust of all the respectable part of 
America." Mr. Read ** thought the words, if not struck out, 
would be as alarming as the mark of the beast in Revelation." 
Mr. Langdon " had rather reject the whole plan than retain the 
three words * and emit bills.* " The clause was stricken out by a 
vote of nine States to two.^ August 28, Roger Sherman, remark- 
ing that ** this is a favorable crisis for crushing paper money," 
moved to prohibit the States from emitting bills of credit, or 
making anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment 
of debts. This clause was placed in the Constitution by a vote 
of eight States to two.* Thus our fathers supposed they had 
protected us against the very evil which now afflicts the nation. 

The doctrines which I am advocating in reference to the evils 
of an inconvertible currency are strongly corroborated by the 
financial experience of Great Britain. One of the ablest of 
English writers on finance thus sums up the history of panics 
and commercial distress : — 

" From the undue or unnecessary increase of the currency, which 
could not take place if vhe whole were metallic, we have the origin and 
sole cause of general speculation and overtrading, which proceed with 
its increase, and in their progress demand or require new additions to 
the circulation and credit ; and, from the consequent facility of obtaining 
credit, may far outstrip the actual increase of the currency ; a state of 
things that cannot be prolonged beyond the safety of the Bank,* which 
again depends on the stock of her treasure ; the issues are then con- 
tracted, this is followed by the contraction of the country circulation, 
credit is destroyed, and suddenly our market assumes the appearance of 
low prices, overproduction, or indefinite supply. If this principle is 
applied to the contraction of our currency in 181 5 and 181 6, with the 
low prices that followed ; its extension in 181 7 and 181 8, and the gen- 
eral speculation, overtrading, and high prices that succeeded ; and, again, 
to its contraction in 181 9, 1820, 1821, and 1822, and the general com- 
plaint of abundance of foreign and home produce and low prices 
that continued throughout these years ; and lastly to the increase of the 
currency in 1824 and part of 1825, with the accompanying rage of 

1 EUiot*s Debates, Vol. V. p. 435. 2 Ibid., Vol. V. p. 485. 

* The Bank of England. 


speculation, overtrading, and high prices that followed, we see the estab- 
lishment of the principle in all its forms and effects." * 

To review briefly the ground travelled over : we have seen 
that the hard times and depression of business which the coun- 
try is now suffering were caused in the first instance by the 
great industrial revolution which grew out of the war, and that 
its evils have been aggravated and are in danger of being indefi- 
nitely continued by the unsettled condition of our currency, and 
by the uncertainty of Congressional legislation; that we have 
not now, and, without decisive legislation, cannot have, a fixed 
standard of value, and therefore all trade and business are at 
the mercy of political sensations and business intHgues, the evils 
of which fall heaviest upon the laboring man ; that the greatest 
financial danger which threatens us is that some of the schemes 
now before Congress may result in a large increase of irredeem- 
able paper money, for which there can be no defence except 
such an overwhelming necessity as compelled Congress to use 
it, in the moment of supreme peril, to save the life of the nation ; 
that history is full of warnings against such a policy ; that dur- 
ing our Colonial period, during the war of the Revolution, and 
after the war, our fathers tested and practically exploded the 
very theories now in vogue respecting paper money, and at- 
tempted so to frame the Constitution as to shield us from the 
calamities that they suffered ; and finally, that these views are 
fully confirmed by the financial history of England. From 
these considerations it appears to me that the first step toward 
a settlement of our financial and industrial affairs should be to 
adopt and declare to the country a fixed and definite policy, so 
that industry and enterprise may be based upon confidence ; so 
that men may know what to expect from the government ; and, 
above all, that the course of business may be so adjusted that 
it shall be governed by the laws of trade, and not by the caprice 
of any man or of any political party in or out of Congress. 

What has the Fortieth Congress done in reference to this sub- 
ject? Thus far, nothing has been done, except to abandon the 
policy which we have been pursuing for the past two years. By 
joint resolution of January 23, 1868, it was ordered that there 
shall be no further contraction of the currency; but the Commit- 
tee of Ways and Means not only did not indicate what policy 

1 Mushet : An Attempt to explain the Effect of the Issues of the Bank of 
England, (London, 1826,) pp. 182, 183. 


they should recommend, but they gave no reasons for the meas- 
ure they reported, nor did they allow any debate or question by 
others. I voted against that resolution, not because I was in 
favor of continuing without change the policy we were then 
pursuing, but because I believed, as has since been manifest, 
that a large party in this House intended not to stop there, but 
to make that resolution the first step toward inflation. Against 
that policy I made the only protest left to me, by voting against 
the first measure in the programme. 

That contraction of the currency tended toward specie pay- 
ments, few will deny; but that there were serious evils con- 
nected with it is also manifest. The element of uncertainty was 
the chief evil. It was never known whether the Secretary of 
the Treasury would use the power placed in his hands during 
any given month, or not ; and the stringency caused by con- 
traction was always anticipated and generally exaggerated. The 
actual contraction had far less influence on business than the 
expectation of it In connection with this policy, the efforts of 
the Secretary to keep the gold market steady by sales from the 
Treasury increased the uncertainty, and led to a* very general 
feeling that it was unwise to put the control of business and 
prices, to so great an extent, in the hands of any one man ; es- 
pecially of one so involved in the political antagonisms of the 
hour as the present Secretary. 

The financial schemes and plans now before Congress are so 
numerous and so contradictory as to give us little hope that any 
comprehensive policy can be agreed upon at present. For my- 
self, I have but little faith in panaceas, — in remedies which will 
cure all evils, — in any one plan which will reach all the difficul- 
ties of our situation. Above all, it seems to me unwise to com- 
plicate the questions that arc pressing for immediate solution 
with those which refer to subjects not yet ripe for action. For 
example, I have not yet seen the wisdom of making the redemp- 
tion of the five-twenty bonds — not one of which is payable for 
fourteen years to come — a prominent element in our legislation 
at this time. In the midst of so many difficulties, it is better to 
do one thing at a time, and to do it carefully and thoroughly. 

On the lOth of February I introduced a bill which, if it 
should become a law, will, I believe, go far toward restoring 
confidence and giving stability to business; and will lay the 
foundation on which a general financial policy may be based, 


whenever opinions are so harmonized as to make a general 
policy possible. As the bill is short, I will quote it entire, and 
call attention for a few moments to its provisions : — 

" A Bill to provide for a gradual return to Specie Payments. 

" Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled. That on and after 
the ist day of December, 1868, the Secretary of the Treasury be, 
and he is hereby, authorized and directed to pay gold coin of the 
United States for any legal-tender notes of the United States which 
may be presented at the office of the Assistant Treasurer, at New York, 
at the rate of one dollar in gold for one dollar and thirty cents in legal- 
tender notes. On and after the ist day of January, 1869, the rate shall 
be one dollar in gold for one dollar and twenty-nine cents in legal-tender 
notes ; and at the beginning of and during each succeeding month the 
amount of legal-tender notes required in exchange for one dollar in 
gold shall be one cent less than the amount required during the pre- 
ceding month, until the exchange becomes one dollar in gold for one 
dollar in legal-tender notes ; and on and after the ist day of June, 187 1, 
the Secretary of the Treasury shall exchange gold for legal-tender notes, 
dollar for dollar: Provided, that nothing in this act shall be so con- 
strued as to authorize the retirement or cancellation of any legal-tender 
notes of the United States." 

To all plans hitherto proposed it has been objected that the 
vast amount of public debt yet to be funded, and the still larger 
amount of private indebtedness, the value of which would be 
changed in favor of the creditor and against the debtor, made 
it impossible to return to specie payments without great loss 
both to the government and to the debtor class. I have no 
doubt that an immediate or sudden resumption of payments 
would prove a heavy shock to business, and very greatly disturb 
the present scale of values. These objections are almost wholly 
avoided in the bill I have proposed, by making the return 
gradual ; and the time when the process is to begin is placed so 
far ahead as to give full notice and allow the country to adjust 
its business to the provisions of the act. By the ist of Decem- 
ber next, the floating and temporary debt of the United States 
will be funded, in accordance with laws already in operation ; 
the excitement and derangement of business incident to a Presi- 
dential election will be over, and we ought to be ready at that 
time, if ever, to take decisive steps toward the old paths. I do 
not doubt that, in anticipation of the operation of this measure, 


should it become a law, gold would be at 130, or lower, by the 
1st of December, and that very little would be asked for, from 
the Treasury, in exchange for currency. At the beginning of 
each succeeding month, the exchange between gold and green- 
backs would be reduced one cent, and specie payments would be 
fully resumed in June, 1871. That the country is able to resume 
by that time will hardly be denied. With the $100,000,000 of 
gold now in the Treasury, and the amount received from cus- 
toms, which averages nearly half a million per day, it is not at 
all probable that we should need to borrow a dollar in order to 
carry out the provisions of the law. 

But taking the most unfavorable aspect of the case, and sup- 
posing that the government should find it necessary to authorize 
a gold loan, the expense would be trifling compared with the 
resulting benefits to the country. The proposed measure would 
incidentally bring all the national banks to the aid of the govern- 
ment in the work of resumption. The banks are required by 
law to redeem their own notes in greenbacks. They now hold in 
their vaults, as a reserve required by law, $162,000,000, of which 
sum $1 14,000,000 is in greenbacks. Being compelled to pay the 
same price for their own notes as for greenbacks, they would 
gradually accumulate a specie reserve, and would be compelled 
to keep abreast of the government in every step of the progress 
toward resumption. The necessity of redeeming their own 
notes would keep their circulation nearer home, and would more 
equally distribute the currency of the country, which now con- 
centrates at the great money centres, and produces scarcity in 
the rural districts. This measure would not at once restore the 
old national standard of value, but it would give stability to 
business and confidence to business men everywhere. Every 
man who contracts a debt would know what the value of a 
dollar would be when the debt became due. The opportunity 
now aflforded to Wall Street gamblers to run up and run down 
the relative price of gold and greenbacks would be removed. 
The element of chance, which now vitiates our whole industrial 
system, would in great part be eliminated. 

If this measure be adopted, it will incidentally settle several 
of our most troublesome questions. It will end the war between 
the contractionists and the inflationists, — a war which, like that 
of Marius and Sylla, may prove almost fatal to the interests of the 
country, whichever side prevails. The amount of paper money 


will regulate itself, and may be unlimited, so long as every 
dollar is convertible into specie at the will of the holder. 

The still more difficult question of paying our five-twenty 
bonds would be avoided, — completely flanked by this measure. 
The money paid to the wounded soldier, and to the soldier's 
widow, would soon be made equal in value to the money paid 
to all other creditors of the government. 

It will be observed that the bill does not authorize the cancel- 
lation or retirement of any United States notes. It is believed 
that, for )a time at least, the volume of the currency may safely 
remain as it now is. When the measure has been in force for 
some time it will be seen whether the increased use of specie for 
purposes of circulation will not allow a gradual reduction of the 
legal-tender notes. This can be safely left to subsequent legis- 
lation. It will facilitate the success of this plan, if Congress will 
pass a bill to legalize contracts hereafter made for the payment 
of coin. If this be done, many business men will conduct their 
affairs on a specie basis, and thus retain at home much of our 
gold that now goes abroad. 

I have not been ambitious to add another to the many 
financial plans proposed to this Congress, much less have I 
sought to introduce a new and untried scheme. On the con- 
trary, I regard it a strong recommendation of this measure that 
it is substantially the same as that by which Great Britain re- 
sumed specie payments, after a suspension of nearly a quarter 
of a century. 

The situation of England at that time was strikingly similar to 
our present situation. She had just emerged from a great war, 
in which her resources had been taxed to the utmost. Business 
had been expanded, and high prices prevailed. Paper money 
had been issued in unusual volume, was virtually a legal tender, 
and had depreciated to the extent of twenty-five per cent. 
Every financial evil from which we now suffer prevailed there, 
and was aggravated by having been longer in operation. Plans 
and theories without end were proposed to meet the many 
difficulties of the case. For ten years the Bank of England and 
the majority in Parliament vehemently denied that paper money 
had depreciated, notwithstanding the unanswerable report of 
the Bullion Committee of 1810, and the undeniable fact that it 
tocbk twenty-five per cent more of notes than of coin to buy an 
oumce of gold. Many insisted that paper was a better standard 


of value than coin. Some denounced the attempt to return to 
specie as unwise ; others as impossible. William Cobbett, the 
famous pamphleteer, announced that he would give himself up 
to be broiled on a gridiron whenever the Bank should resume 
cash payments; and for many years kept the picture of a grid- 
iron at the head of his Political Register, to remind his readers 
of his prophecy. Every phase of the question was discussed 
by the best minds of the kingdom, in and out of Parliament, for 
more than ten years; and in May, 18 19, under the lead of Sir 
Robert Peel, a law was passed fixing the time and mode of 

It provided that on the ist of February, 1820, the Bank should 
give, in exchange for its notes, gold bullion, in quantities not 
less than sixty ounces, at the rate of 8ij. per ounce; that from 
the 1st of October, 1820, the rate should be 79J. 6d,; from the 
1st of May, 1822, 79^. \o\d,; and on the 1st of May, 1823, the 
Bank should redeem all its notes in coin, whatever the amount 
presented. The passage of the act gave once more a fixed and 
certain value to money; and business so soon adjusted itself to 
the measure in anticipation that specie payments were fully 
resumed on the ist of May, 1821, two years before the time 
fixed by the law. Forty-seven years have elapse^ since then, 
and the verdict of history has approved the wisdofii of the act, 
notwithstanding the clamor and outcry which at first assailed it. 
So plainly does this lesson apply to us that, in the preface to 
one of the best histories of England recently published, the 
author, who is an earnest friend of the United States, says: — 

" It seems to me that no thoughtful citizen of any nation can read the 
story of the years before and after Peel's bill of 18 19, extending over the 
crash of 1825-26, without the strongest desire that such risks and ca- 
lamities may b^ avoided in his own country, at any sacrifice. There are 
several countri 5 under the doom of retribution for the license of an 
inconvertible paper currency ; and of these the United States are unhap- 
pily one. This passage of F^nglish history may possibly help to check 
the levity with which the inevitable * crash ' is spoken of by some who little 
dream what the horrors and griefs of such a convulsion are. It may do 
more, if it should convince any considerable number of observers that the 
affairs of the economic world are as truly and certainly under the control 
of natural laws as the world of matter without, and that of mind within." ^ 

This testimony of a friend is worthy our profoundest consid- 

1 Harriet Martineau : History of the Peace, (Boston, 1S64,) Vol. I. p. 8. 


I will malce no apology for the length to which I have ex- 
tended these remarks. The importance of the subject demanded 
it. The decision we shall reach on this question will settle or 
unsettle the foundations of public credit, of the public faith, and 
of individual and national prosperity. The time and manner of 
paying the bonds, the refunding the national debt, the contin- 
uance or abolition of the national banks, and many other prop- 
ositions, depend for their wisdom or unwisdom on the settlement 
of this question. I know we are told that resumption of specie 
payments will increase the value of the public debt, and thus 
add to the burden of taxation ; and we are told, with special 
emphasis, that the people will not tolerate any increase of their 
burdens, but that they demand plenty of money and a return of 
high prices. But, sir, I have learned to think better of the 
American people than to believe that they are not willing to 
know the worst and to provide for it. I remember that, after 
the first defeat at Bull Run, many officers of the government 
thought it not safe to let the people know, at once, the full ex- 
tent of the disaster ; but that the news should be broken gently, 
that the nation might be better able to bear it. Long before 
the close of the war, it was found that Cabinet and Congress 
and all the officers of the United States needed for themselves 
to draw hope and courage from the great heart of the people. 
It was only necessary for the nation to know the extent of the 
danger, the depth of the need, and its courage, faith, and en- 
durance were always equal to the necessity. It is now, as ever, 
our highest duty to deal honestly and frankly with the people 
who sent us here, in reference to their financial and industrial 
affairs ; to assure them that the path of safety is a narrow and 
rugged one; that by economy and prudence, by much patience 
and some suffering, they must come down, by slow and careful 
steps, from the uncertain and dangerous height to which the 
war carried them, or they will fall at last in financial ruin more 
sudden and calamitous than any yet recorded in the history of 
mankind. Let it be remembered, also, that the heaviest of the 
pressure has already been felt; the climax of suffering is 
already past. The spring has opened with better prospects, 
and indications are not wanting that the end of stagnation and 
depression is near. The hitherto unknown extent of our re- 
sources, the great recuperative energies of our industry, and the 
generous loyalty of the people, have brought the nation safely 


thus far through the dangers and difficulties of the rebellion. 
Patience and steady firmness maintained here and among the 
people a little longer will overcome the obstacles that yet lie 
before us. / 

For my own part, my course is taken. In view of all the 
facts of our situation ; of all the terrible experiences of the past, 
both at home and abroad ; and of the united testimony of the 
wisest and bravest statesmen who have lived and labored during 
the last century, it is my firm conviction that any considerable 
increase of the volume of our inconvertible paper money will 
shatter public credit, will paralyze industry and oppress the 
poor ; and that the gradual restoration of our ancient standard 
of value will lead us, by the safest and surest path, to national 
prosperity and the steady pursuits of peace. 

VOL. I. 21 




May 30, 1868. 

** He has not died young who has lived long enough to die for his country.** — SchilUr, 

MR. PRESIDENT, — I am oppressed with a sense of the 
impropriety of uttering words on this occasion. If 
silence is ever golden, it must be here beside the graves of 
fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than 
speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can 
never be sung. With words we make promises, plight faith, 
praise virtue. Promises may not be kept; plighted faith may 
be broken; and vaunted virtue be only the cunning mask of 
vice. We do not know one promise these men made, one 
pledge they gave, one word they spoke ; but we do know they 
summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest vir- 
tues of men and citizens. For love of country, they accepted 
death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their 
patriotism and their virtue. For the noblest man that lives, 
there still remains a conflict. He must still withstand the as- 
saults of time and fortune, — must still be assailed with temp- 
tations, before which lofty natures have fallen ; but with these, 
the conflict ended, the victory was won, when death stamped 
on them the great seal of heroic character, and closed a record 
which years can never blot. 

I know of nothing more appropriate on this occasion than to 
inquire what brought these men here. What high motive led 
them to condense life into an hour, and to crown that hour by 
joyfully welcoming death? Let us consider. 

Eight years ago this was the most unwarlike nation of the 
earth. For nearly fifty years no spot in any of these States 


• had been the scene of battle. Thirty millions of people had 
an army of less than ten thousand men. The faith of our peo- 
ple in the stability and permanence of their institutions was 
like their faith in the eternal course of nature. Peace, liberty, 
and personal security were blessings as common and universal 
as sunshine and showers and fruitful seasons ; and all sprang 
from a single source, — the old American principle that all owe 
due submission and obedience to the lawfully expressed will 
of the majority. This is not one of the doctrines of our politi- 
cal system, — it is the system itself It is our political firma- 
ment, in which all other truths are set, as stars in heaven. It 
is the encasing air, the breath of the nation's life. Against 
this principle the whole weight of the rebellion was thrown. 
Its overthrow would have brought such ruin as might follow in 
the physical universe if the power of gravitation were destroyed, 

" Nature's concord broke, 
Among the constellations war were sprung, 
And planets, rushing from aspect malign 
Of fiercest opposition, in mid-sky 
Should combat, and their jarring spheres confound." 

The nation was summoned to arms by every high motive 
which can inspire men. Two centuries of freedom had made 
its people unfit for despotism. They must save their govern- 
ment, or miserably perish. 

As a flash of lightning in a midnight tempest reveals the 
abysmal horrors of the sea, so did the flash of the first gun dis- 
close the awful abyss into which rebellion was ready to plunge 
us. In a moment the fire was lighted in twenty million hearts. 
In a moment wc were the most warlike nation on the earth. 
In a moment wc were not merely a people with an army, — 
we were a people in arms. The nation was in column, — not 
all at the front, but all in the array. 

I love to believe that no heroic sacrifice is ever lost; that 
the characters of men are moulded and inspired by what their 
fathers have done; that treasured up in American souls are all 
the unconscious influences of the great deeds of the Anglo- 
Saxon race, from Agincourt to Bunker Hill. It was such an 
influence that led a young Greek, two thousand years ago, when 
musing on the battle of Marathon, to exclaim, " The trophies of 
Miltiades will not let me sleep ! " Could these men be silent in 
1861, — these, whose ancestors had felt the inspiration of battle 


on every field where civilization had fought in the last thousand 
years? Read their answer in this green turf. Each for him- 
self gathered up the cherished purposes of life, — its aims and 
ambitions, its dearest affections, — and flung all, with life itself, 
into the scale of battle. 

We began the war for the Union alone ; but we had not gone 
far into its darkness before a new element was added to the con- 
flict, which filled the army and the nation with cheerful but 
intense religious enthusiasm. In lessons that could not be 
misunderstood, the nation was taught that God had linked to 
our own the destiny of an enslaved race, — that their liberty and 
our Union were indeed " one and inseparable." It was this 
that made the soul of John Brown the marching companion 
of our soldiers, and made them sing as they went down to 
battle, — 

" Ai the beauty of the lilies Christ was born, across the sea, 
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me ; 
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, 
While God is marching on." 

With such inspirations, failure was impossible. The struggle 
consecrated, in some degree, every man who bore a worthy 
part. I can never forget an incident illustrative of this thought, 
which it was my fortune to witness, near sunset of the second 
day at Chickamauga, when the beleaguered but unbroken left 
wing of our army had again and again repelled the assaults of 
more than double their numbers, and when each soldier felt that 
to his individual hands were committed the life of the army and 
the honor of his country. It was just after a division had fired 
its last cartridge, and had repelled a charge at the point of the 
bayonet, that the great-hearted commander took the hand of 
an humble soldier and thanked him for his steadfast courage. 
The soldier stood silent for a moment, and then said, with 
deep emotion : " George H. Thomas has taken this hand in 
his. I '11 knock down any mean man that offers to take it 
hereafter." This rough sentence was full of meaning. He felt 
that something had happened to his hand which consecrated it. 
Could a hand bear our banner in battle, and not be forever con- 
secrated to honor and virtue? But doubly consecrated were 
these who received into their own hearts the fatal shafts aimed 
at the life of their country. Fortunate men ! your country lives 
because you died ! Your fame is placed where the breath of 


calumny can never reach it ; where the mistakes of a weary life 
can never dim its brightness ! Coming generations will rise up 
to call you blessed ! 

And now, consider this silent assembly of the dead. What 
does it represent? Nay, rather, what does it not represent? It 
is an epitome of the war. Here are sheaves reaped, in the har- 
vest of death, from every battlefield of Virginia. If each grave 
had a voice to tell us what its silent tenant last saw and heard 
on earth, we might stand, with uncovered heads, and hear the 
whole story of the war. We should hear that one perished 
when the first great drops of the crimson shower began to fall, 
when the darkness of that first disaster at Manassas fell like an 
eclipse on the nation ; that another died of disease while wearily 
waiting for winter to end ; that this one fell on the field, in sight 
of the spires of Richmond, little dreaming that the flag must be 
carried through three more years of blood before it should be 
planted in that citadel of treason ; and that one fell when the 
tide of war had swept us back till the roar of rebel guns shook 
the dome of yonder Capitol, and re-echoed in the chambers 
of the Executive mansion. We should hear mingled voices 
from the Rappahannock, the Rapidan, the Chickahominy, and 
the James, solemn voices from the Wilderness, and triumphant 
shouts from the Shenandoah, from Petersburg, and the Five 
Forks, mingled with the wild acclaim of victory and the sweet 
chorus of returning peace. The voices of these dead will for- 
ever fill the land like holy benedictions. 

What other spot so fitting for their last resting-place as this, 
under the shadow of the Capitol saved by their valor? Here, 
where the grim edge of battle joined, — here, where all the hope 
and fear and agony of their country centred, — here let them rest, 
asleep on the nation's heart, entombed in the nation's love ! 

The view from this spot bears some resemblance to that which 
greets the eye at Rome. In sight of the Capitoline Hill, up and 
across the Tiber, and overlooking the city, is a hill, not rugged 
nor lofty, but known as the Vatican Mount. At the beginning 
of the Christian era an imperial circus stood on its summit. 
There gladiator slaves died for the sport of Rome, and wild 
beasts fought with wilder men. There a Galilean fisherman 
gave up his life a sacrifice for his faith. No human life was 
ever so nobly avenged. On that spot was reared the proudest 
Christian temple ever built by human hands. For its adorn- 


ment the rich offerings of every clime and kingdom have been 
contributed. And now, after eighteen centuries, the hearts of 
two hundred million people turn towards it with reverence 
when they worship God. As the traveller descends the Apen- 
nines, he sees the dome of St. Peter's rising above the desolate 
Campagna and the dead city, long before the seven hills and 
the ruined palaces appear to his view. The fame of the dead 
fisherman has outlived the glory of the Eternal City. A noble 
life, crowned with heroic death, rises above and outlives the 
pride and pomp and glory of the mightiest empire of the 

Seen from the western slope of our Capitol, in direction, dis- 
tance, and appearance, this spot is not unlike the\iatican Mount, 
though the river that flows at our feet is larger than a hundred 
Tibers. Seven years ago this was the home of one who lifted 
his sword against the life of his country, and who became the 
great Imperator of the rebellion. The soil beneath our feet was 
watered by the tears of slaves, in whose hearts the sight of yon- 
der proud Capitol awakened no pride, and inspired no hope. 
The face of the goddess that crowns it was turned towards the 
sea, and not towards them. But, thanks be to God, this arena 
of rebellion and slavery is a scene of violence and crime no 
longer ! This will be forever the sacred mountain of our capital. 
Here is our temple: its pavement is the sepulchre of heroic 
hearts; its dome, the bending heaven; its altar candles, the 
watching stars. 

Hither our children's children shall come to pay their tribute 
of grateful homage. For this are we met to-day. By the happy 
suggestion of a great society, assemblies like this are gathering 
at this hour in every State in the Union. Thousands of sol- 
diers are to-day turning aside in the march of life to visit the 
silent encampments of dead comrades who once fought by their 
side. From many thousand homes, whose light was put out 
when a soldier fell, there go forth to-day to join these solemn 
processions loving kindred and friends, from whose heart the 
shadow of grief will never be lifted till the light of the eternal 
world dawns upon them. And here are children, little chil- 
dren, to whom the war left no father but the Father above. By 
the most sacred right, theirs is the chief place to-day. They 
come with garlands to crown their victor fathers. I will delay 
the coronation no longer. 




July 15, 1868. 

Propositions to tax the bonds of the United States were common in 
the period reaching from the close of the war to the resumption of specie 
payments (1865 ^0 1879). Sometimes they sprang from the strong re- 
pudiation tendencies so rife in that period, and sometimes from an imper- 
fect understanding of the legal and economical elements involved in the 
question. Several such schemes, diflering in details but agreeing in the 
end to be reached, were brought forward in the House of Representa- 
tives in the second session of the Fortieth Congress. As the number of 
these schemes, and the hold that they took of the House and the coun- 
try, led to the following speech, it will be well to mention several of them. 

February 14, 1868, Mr. John A. Logan, of Illihois, introduced a bill 
providing that from and after the ist of June, 1868, all United States 
bonds should pay an internal tax of two per cent per annum. As there 
was no apparent prospect of reaching this bill that session, Mr. F. A. 
Pike, of Maine, June 25, offered in Committee of the Whole the 
amendment to the Internal Tax Bill which is quoted in the following 
speech, and which was niled out of order. The Holman amendment, 
offered the next day, making the rate of tax sixteen and two thirds per 
cent, was also ruled out Mr. B. F. Butler, of Massachusetts, now moved 
to strike out certain words from one of the sections of the Tax Bill, the 
effect of which would be to make the bonds held by the national banks 
taxable at the rate of one half of one per cent per annum. This motion 
was the occasion upon which Mr. Pike made the remarks commented 
upon by Mr. Garfield in the following speech. June 29th, Mr. Amasa 
Cobb, of Wisconsin, offered this resolution : " That the Committee of 
Ways and Means be, and they are hereby, instructed to report without 
tnmecessary delay a bill levying a tax of at least ten per cent on the 
interest of the bonds of the United States, to be assessed and collected 
annually by the Secretary of the Treasury, and such of his subordinates 
as may be charged with the duty of paying the interest on the bonded 


Indebtedness of the United States." After motions to lay thui resolu- 
tion on the table, and to refer it to the Committee of Ways and Means, 
had been voted down, it was adopted. July 2d, a bill was reported in 
harmony with this resolution, the committee taking pains to say in their 
report (quoted by Mr. Garfield below), that they acted only in obedi- 
ence to positive orders, and that, as members of die House, they should 
resist the passage of die biU that they thus reported. No action was 
had upon this biQ. July 14th, the House bemg in Committee of the 
Whole upon the state of the Union, Mr. Butler made a lengthy speech 
in advocacy of the principle involved Mr. Garfield replied both to him 
and to Mr. Pike, also in committee, the day following. 

" We denounce all forms of repudiation as a national crime ; and the national honor re- 
quires the payment of the public inddytedness, in iht uttermost good faitky to all creditors at 
home and abroad, fut only according to the letter, htt the spirit, of the lawn under wkick it 
was contracted:* ^ReftMican Platform (lifA). 

" We agreed to pay the interest specified in the bonds, and a rdate of interest is, so £ar, a 
repudiation of the contract If we agreed to pay six per cent, let us pay it Let us not pay 
five, and tdl the creditors we have taken the other one per cent and put it into the national 
treasury. That b not keeping Hat public faith. We may as well deduct from the principal 
as from the interest" — Speech of Hon, F, A, Pike in the House of Representatives, Decem- 
ber 17, 1867. 

MR. CHAIRMAN, — I sympathize with every gentleman 
who has honored the speakers of the evening by sitting 
in this hall, with the mercury at ninety-three degrees, to listen 
to a financial debate. But the subject discussed last evening 
by the gentleman from Massachusetts ^ is of such transcendent 
importance, and the views he submitted to the House seem to 
me of so very singular a character in some of their aspects, that 
I feel justified in asking your attention to what I shall say in 

I ought to say that I had already prepared a brief in answer 
to a speech, not delivered, but printed by the gentleman from 
Maine,^ on this same subject, not many days ago. And as the 
gentleman from Massachusetts, in his speech last evening, in- 
dorsed almost every position taken by the gentleman from 
Maine, especially his statements in regard to the history of 
English taxation as a precedent for the proposed measure, 
I can do no better than to consider, first, the points made by 
the gentleman from Maine, and then notice any special points 
made in addition by the gentleman from Massachusetts. 

1 Mr. Butler. s Mr. Pike. 


I desire in the outset to disclaim any purpose or wish to 
exempt from its full and proper share of taxation any species 
of property in the United States, and least of all that kind of 
property which is not actively employed in the production of 
national wealth. I am not the defender of any particular class 
of property, or property-holders. I seek, rather, to defend the 
truth of history as it bears on this subject, and to defend our 
financial system from a most dangerous innovation, ruinous alike 
to the revenue and to the public credit 

Let us examine, for a moment, the history of the issue raised 
by these gentlemen, in order to ascertain precisely what it is. 

The feeling has been, and still is, very general throughout 
the country, that the holders of our national bonds do not bear 
an equal share of the burdens of taxation, and many plans have 
been proposed to readjust our financial machinery so as to levy 
on that class of the community a heavier tax than they now 
pay. Nothing is more gratifying to a representative than to be 
able to meet and satisfy a popular demand. But how to meet 
this one lawfully, honestly, and wisely, has been, and still is, a 
matter of great difficulty. The Democratic party once pro- 
posed that the States should tax the bonds, as they tax real and 
personal property. But the law creating the bonds specially 
declares them exempt from all State and municipal taxation, 
and even if the law were silent on the subject, the Constitution 
of the United States interposes to prevent it. In a long line of 
judicial decisions, extending over nearly half a century, it has 
been again and again declared, by the Supreme Court, that 
such taxation is forbidden by the Constitution. 

The payment of the bonds in depreciated paper currency 
has been another favorite plan for reaching the same result; 
but that dishonest scheme has been severely if not fatally dam- 
aged by the noble declarations of the Chicago Convention, and 
by the refusal of the late Democratic Convention to nominate 
the most prominent supporter of the scheme itself.* 

Many other schemes, which I need not stop to enumerate, 
have been offered during the present session, looking to the 
same ultimate result, such as taxing the principal of the public 
debt by Congress, and other similar plans. I will only state 
particularly those propositions recently made that have resulted 
in the passage of a resolution by this House, which I believe 

1 Mr. George H. Pendleton, of Ohio. 


the House will not sanction when it has maturely reviewed and 
considered the subject. 

On the 25th of June, while the bank section of the internal 
revenue tax bill was before the House, the gentleman from 
Maine offered an amendment in these words : " That upon all 
interest arising from bonds of the United States there shall be 
levied, collected, and paid a duty of ten per cent on the amount 
of such interest, and the Treasurer of the United States, and 
such subordinate officers as shall be charged with the payment 
of interest, shall assess and collect the duty hereby levied." It 
was ruled out of order, as not germane to the bill then pend- 
ing. The financial leader of the Democratic party on this floor ^ 
came to his support the next day, by offering a proposition 
differing from the above only in this, — that it fixed the rate 
of taxation at sixteen and two thirds per cent. This was also 
ruled out of order. Still later, the gentleman from Massachu- 
setts offered an amendment to the bank section of the tax bill 
which was in order, and under the cover of which the three gen- 
tlemen discussed their several projects. Their labor was not 
lost, though another has reaped whatever of glory may be sup- 
posed to result from the enterprise. The substance of their 
schemes was embodied in a resolution of peremptory instruc- 
tions to the Committee of Ways and Means to bring in a bill 
levying a direct tax of ten per cent on the interest of the pub- 
lic debt, and requiring the Secretary of the Treasury and his 
subordinates to withhold that amount when the coupons were 
presented for payment. This resolution was introduced into the 
House on the 29th of June by the gentleman from Wisconsin,^ 
and was passed under the previous question, without a word of 
debate being permitted. Every Democrat present save one 
voted for it. 

Though the desire has been very general, I may perhaps 
say almost universal, among the members of this Congress, to 
lay a heavier burden of taxation on the holders of bonds, yet 
the House had been restrained from such measures as the 
Cobb resolution by a sentiment deeply ingrained in the Anglo- 
Saxon character, that it is honest to pay what we fairly and 
lawfully promise, and dishonest to refuse. But the gentleman 
from Maine undertook to remove that difficulty by assuring 
the House that Great Britain has long been doing precisely 

1 Mr. Holman. a Mr. Cobb. 


the thing he recommended. I have no doubt that many mem- 
bers, relying on the accuracy of the gentleman's statements, 
were reheved from ethical difficulties which would otherwise 
have prevented their voting for the resolution. The speech, 
though not delivered in full, was printed in the Globe, from 
manuscript elaborately prepared, and was directed to the de- 
fence of his proposed amendment, which I have already quoted. 
He offers what he calls three " reasons " in support of his prop- 
osition. His second and third are purely negative arguments, if 
arguments at all, and amount substantially to this : that as the 
Constitution docs noty and Congress cannot^ confer upon the 
States the power to tax the bonds of the United States, and as 
he and those who agree with him have hitherto been defeated 
in their attempts to levy a direct tax of one per cent on the 
capital of the public debt, there is no other method of reaching 
their object except the one now proposed ; namely, to levy a 
direct tax on the interest of the public debt, by declaring that 
the government will hereafter pay but ninety per cent of the 
interest it has promised to pay. 

The first and only positive one of his three ** reasons " is the 
English precedent. This statement is most surprising. Doubt- 
less many members were gratified to hear it ; but I know of but 
one who indorsed it as true. The gentleman from Massachu- 
setts, a few days after, in speaking of the Cobb resolution, said, 
*'The tax which the resolution proposes is the same as the 
English government imposes on its bonds." 

That a gentleman in the heat of debate, or without reflection, 
should make such a statement, would not be remarkable. But 
the gentleman from Maine undertook to speak by authority, 
giving quotations from the English statutes, and citations from 
financial history. He arranged his summary of the subject 
under five separate heads, and made his assertion as if with the 
full assurance of knowledge. After a careful examination, I 
am compelled to say that I have never seen so many miscon- 
ceptions and perversions of so important a subject crowded into 
the same space. That I may do the gentleman no injustice, I 
quote his words : — 

" The income statute of 5 Victoria is very elaborate, occupying a hun- 
dred and twenty pages, with minute details of different subjects of taxa- 
tion and modes of collection. 

"Schedule B provides that upon incomes from landed estates — and 


from this source some of the largest English incomes are derived — there 
shall be levied two and a half pence upon eveiy twenty shillings of value. 

''Schedule C is as follows: 'Upon all profits arising from annuities, 
dividends, and shares of annuities payable to any person, body politic or 
corporate, company or society, whether corporate or not corporate, out 
of any public revenue, there shall be charged yearly for every twenty 
shillings of the amount thereof the sum of seven pence, without deduc- 

The effect of these English statutes is, — 

I. A larger tax is assessed upon the holders of property in the pub- 
lic debt than upon the holders of landed estates. 

" 2. Every lK>lder of the debt, whether resident in Great Britain or not, 
is assessed. 

"3. As a portion of the public debt of England is in terminable annu- 
ities, to that extent the principal of the debt is taxed, and diat whether 
the holder resides in Great Britain or abroad. Leon Levi, one of the 
most eminent of English writers on finance, mentions this specialty of 
British taxation. 

" 4. As the payment of the interest of the debt is intrusted to the 
Banks of England and Ireland, the East India and the South Sea Com- 
panies, and the Commissioners for the Reduction of the Debt, the effect 
of putting this tax into their hands to assess and collect is nearly the 
same as it would be in our case to deduct it from the coupons. I have, 
in my amendment, followed the idea of the British statute, and charged 
the Treasurer with these duties. 

" 5. Schedule C provides for payment of tax 'without deduction.' In 
case of other property, it is provided by the statute that income up to a 
certain amount is not taxed. In our case, all incomes under ^1,000 are 
not taxed. The English limit is somewhat less. 

"It is evident that my proposition is clearly within the English ex- 
ample." ^ 

The gentleman owes it to the House and to the country to 
explain why he drew the authority for his statements from the 
statute of 5 and 6 Victoria, a statute passed in 1842, and, by its 
terms, to continue in force but three years ; and which, with the 
exception of some of the administrative sections, was repealed 
fifteen years ago. The very passage which the gentleman 
quotes in reference to the taxation of interest on the public 
debt, is not now the law of England, and has not been for 
fifteen years. 

Mr. Pike. If the gentleman will allow me, Sir Robert Peel's law of 
1842 took this schedule from Pitt's law of 1803. Gladstone subse- 

> Congressional Globe, June 26^ 1868, pp. 3531 » 3532. 


qpeo&f adopted the same schedule. He amended the income law, but 
it was in particulais I did not comment upon. Consequently, the state- 
ments I quoted from Peel's law, and which were also in Gladstone's law, 
were propeily quoted, because they are to-day the income law of Great 
Britain. The £u:t is, the law of 1842 is the income law that is usually 
quoted, unless as to the few particulars in which it was changed by 
Ghdstme's law. 

I will not linger on this point, but only repeat what I have 
already said, that the very section which the gentleman quoted 
was repealed fifteen years ago, and, except some of the admin- 
istrative sections, Gladstone's law of 1853 has been the basis 
of all subsequent legislation on the subject But against the 
gottleman's statements I bring charges far more serious than 
that of quoting a dead law. He has utterly misrepresented 
the law which he attempts to quote. 

I. To prove his assertion that a larger tax is assessed on 
holders of property in the public debt than on holders of landed 
estates, he asserts that Schedule B taxes income on landed es- 
tates only two and one half pence in the pound ; while Schedule 
C taxes interest on the public debt seven pence in the pound. 
On the very page of the statute from which he quoted stood, 
in plain print, the following: " Schedule A. For all lands, tene- 
ments, and hereditaments or heritages in Great Britain, there 
shall be charged yearly, in respect of the property thereof, 
for every twenty shillings of the annual value thereof, the sum 
of seven pence." 

He utterly misrepresented Schedule B, which, if quoted, 
would be fatal to his case, and quoted Schedule C in full, thus 
giving the appearance of accuracy to his statement. Schedule 
B levies a tax not on the ownership, but on the occupation of 
land, — on the annual profits of the tenant farmer over and 
above the rent he pays. There are five schedules in the Eng- 
lish income tax, and the profits arising under all are taxed, and 
have always been taxed, at the same rate, except those under 
Schedule B, which are placed at a less rate as a favor to labor- 
ing men, the renters and farmers of land. 

Mr, Butler. How would it help the poor man who rented land to 
tax the rent that went into the owner's pocket? 

The farmers, the laboring men, were taxed only half as much 
on the profits of their labor as the owners of the land were taxed 


on their profits from rent, and thus the poor man was helped. 
A difference was made between rents in Scotland and in Eng- 
land, because of the difference in the mode of charging. In 
one of the countries the landlords had to pay the tax, and in 
the other the tenant. For that reason a difference was made 
between the Scottish and English farmers. But the gentleman 
from Maine quotes the Scottish tax under Schedule B, omitting 
the English, which is one penny in the pound higher. 

Mr. Pike. If the gentleman will allow me a moment The English 
law always has been, not an income tax alone, but a property and in- 
come tax. This is the style of it, — " Property and income." I was 
discussing the income part. That part contained four schedules, begin- 
ning with Schedule B. The first schedule that the gentleman speaks of 
now is the property schedule, and is a tax on the value of the land, 
somewhat similar to our real estate tax of 1 86 1. But by our constitution 
we can have no such property tax as the English, because with us it must 
be levied in proportion to the population. I spoke also of the amount of 
these income taxes. Let me say that the largest income retumed under 
any one single item under Peel's law was derived ftom this veiy Sched- 
ule B. My statement was not about owners of land, but simply of hold- 
ers of land. The holders of land hold it by long leases, and are one class 
of people, and the owners of the land, who are taxed by rack-rent, are 
another class, and on them the real estate tax is charged. That was the 
reason why I mentioned Schedule B, and not Schedule A. 

My friend, I fear, has not helped his case by what he has just 
said. In the first place, he is mistaken in supposing that Sched- 
ule A does not impose an income tax, but a tax on property. 
It is no property tax. I will read from the language of the stat- 
ute : ** Schedule A. For all lands, tenements, etc., there shall 
be charged yearly, in respect of the property thereof, for every 
twenty shillings of annual value thereof, the sum of seven 
pence." The tax is levied on the annual value, the rental value, 
the annual income arising from the realty. It is an income tax 
throughout ; a tax on income, whether arising from property or 
business, capital or labor. In the early years of the tax there 
were no subdivisiohs at all, and these schedules were intro- 
duced to enable the assessors to ascertain more certainly the 
amount of incomes in the kingdom. 

Mr. Pike. I would ask the gentleman whether that Schedule A, so 
far as it is a land tax, is not a tax by rack-rent? 

Not at all. 


Mr. Pike. I say that the English authorities everywhere specify it 
as a tax by rack-rent 

The gentleman is quite mistaken. If an owner rents his land, 
his income from it is estimated on the rental value ; but if he 
fanns his own land, he is taxed under Schedule A, according to 
an assessment made on its annual value, and he is also taxed 
under Schedule B on the profit he makes from farming it 
himself. It is the income in both cases which bears the tax. 
Under Schedule A, income from real estate is taxed. Under 
Schedule B, income from farm labor. 

Mr. Pke. Will the gentleman allow me ? I know he desires to state 
the case ^urly. He speaks of Schedule A as if it was one item. Sched- 
ule B is one item, but Schedule A contains fifty-four different items. 
Among those items are mortgages on houses, lands, etc., railways, 
canals, coalmines, fisheries, iron- works, and other items of that sort, 
making fifty-four different items that go to make up the aggregate of 
Schedule A. 

That makes the case all thg stronger, for the gentleman him- 
self exhibits the fact that fifty-four items are items of landed 
property, — real estate ; and the tax is levied, as I have shown, 
not on the property, but on the annual income from it. 

Mr. Pike. Schedule B, under Peel's act, yielded ;^46, 769,000, and 
the highest item in Schedule A was ;^45, 750,000. I quote from Se- 
nior's Income Tax Law. 

The gentleman's figures cannot possibly be correct, for I 
have before me the full official records of the assessment and 
product of the income tax from 1798 down to 1863. I will 
quote from them in a moment. 

The gentleman refers to Schedule B as the source of some of 
the largest English incomes." In this he is greatly mistaken. 
Nearly two thirds of all who are assessed under it are exempted 
by reason of their small incomes. Levi, in his work on Tax- 
ation, says : " Of nearly seven hundred thousand persons 
assessed under this schedule [B], only about two hundred 
and eighty thousand are charged." ^ This shows clearly that 
the incomes under Schedule B arc those of small farmers, and 
not the ** largest English incomes," as the gentleman asserts. 

Mr. Pike. I did not say the largest individual incomes, but the largest 
income in the gross. 

^ On Taxation, (London, i860,) p. 151. 


The gentleman's statement is incorrect in either case, whether 
applied to individual incomes or to the total amount of incomes 
arising under this schedule. 

In Sir Morton Feto's work on Taxation ^ the whole amount 
assessed under the five schedules of the income tax laws in 
1861 is stated in tabular form. The amount under Schedule A 
is ;f 1 3 1,680^7; under Schedule B, ;f 3 3, 128,296. From a still 
later English work ' I find that the total amount of British in- 
comes, exclusive of Ireland, on which taxes were assessed, under 
the different schedules, in 1862-63, were as follows: — 

A. Ownership of land ;£x3<^9o6i,575 

B. Occupation of land 16,052,671 

C. Dividends • 29,528,215 

D. Trades and professions 93>322,864 

E. Salaries, pensions, etc. X9»463,035 

;£• 284,428,360 

From this it will be seen that the incomes under Schedule B 
amount to but one eighth as much as those under Schedule A, 
where the great incomes are found, and that Schedule B is the 
smallest of the five. 

2. The gentleman asserts that, though under all the other 
schedules incomes below a certain amount are wholly exempt 
from taxation, yet on incomes arising under Schedule C the tax 
must be paid without deduction. In answer to this statement, 
I affirm that such is not now and never was the law of England. 
The very act to which the gentleman appeals provided that 
incomes less than one hundred and fifty pounds should be 
wholly exempt from the tax ; and if any part of it had been 
paid, it should be refunded. Here is the passage from his own 
authority, Statute 5 and 6 Victoria, c. 35. 

"Sec. 163. That any person charged or chargeable to the duties 
granted by this act, either by assessment, or by way of deduction fi-om 
any rent, annuity, interest, or other annual payment to which he may be 
entitled, who shall prove before the Commissioners for General Purposes, 
in the manner hereinafter mentioned, that the aggregate annual amount 
of his income, estimated according to the several rules and directions of 
this act, is less than one hundred and fifty pounds, shall be exempted 
from the said duties, and shall be entitled to be repaid the amount of all 

1 Taxation; an Inquiry into our Financial Policy, (London, 1863,) p. 76. 
■ Fiscal Legislation, by John Noble, (London, 1867,) P* ^S^. 


deductions or payments on account thereof in the manner hereinafter 
directed/* etc. 

Under that law, when holders of the public funds received 
their interest, the Bank, as the fiscal agent of the government, 
withheld the amount of the income tax without deduction ; but, 
on making proof to the Commissioners of the Inland Revenue 
that his income, from all sources, was less than one hundred and 
fifty pounds, the fundholder was paid the full amount which 
had been withheld by the Bank. The gentleman has evidently 
confounded " deduction " with " exemption," for he speaks as 
though no exemption whatever was made under Schedule C. 
In addition to the exemption of all incomes under one hundred 
and fifty pounds, there were wholly exempted from taxation un- 
der that schedule the profits accruing to six classes : i . Friendly 
societies; 2. Savings banks; 3. Charitable institutions; 4. Com- 
missioners of the Public Debt; 5. The Queen; 6. Ministers 
from foreign countries.^ The words ** without deduction '* 
prohibited only the Bank, not the Commissioners of Revenue, 
from making the deduction. In the statute of 16 and 17 Victo- 
ria (1853) these words are omitted, because that law provided 
that the Commissioners might furnish the Bank with a list of 
fundholders whose incomes were entitled to exemption, and 
from such the Bank should withhold no part of the interest. 

Mr. PncE. Pitt's law of 1803 levied a tax of five per cent. It was 
subsequently raised, in 1806, to ten per cent, and it was collected in 
exactly the way the gentleman says no tax ever was collected. That is, 
it was collected at the Bank. And more than that, under Schedule C, it 
was collected in full, and no exemption was allowed ; exactly as I have 
stated. And under Schedule D all incomes from fifty up to one him- 
dred and fifty pounds were exempted. But the exemptions were limited 
to profits derived from "trades, professions, and offices." Thus the 
incomes from the debt were collected in full, while the incomes from 
other sources have exemptions to a certain extent. I quote now from 
Senior's Income Tax I^w, page 80. 

Now, the gentleman has done precisely what I suspected ; he 
has utterly confounded the words " deduction " and " exemp- 
tion," for I see that he uses them interchangeably. I admit the 
law says " without deduction " ; but it does not say " without 
exemption," and therein lies the difference between the gen- 

^ See Stat 5 and 6 Victoria, c. 35, sec. 88. 

VOL. I. 22 


tleman and myself. In a subsequent section (sec. 88) of the 
same statute, there are six exemptions under Schedule C, which 
I have already quoted, and this proves beyond controversy 
that the words " without deduction*' do not mean "without ex- 
emption." From the very volume which the gentleman holds 
in his hand, (Senior's Income Tax Law,) I can show him an in- 
stance cited to illustrate the law in which part of a dividend on 
public funds, withheld by the Bank, was repaid to the citizen 
when he made proof that his income from all sources was less 
than the amount exempted by law. I think I pointed the case 
out to the gentleman a few days ago. From the beginning of 
the English income tax down to the present day, every man has 
been repaid, if he came under the exemption clause, for all 
moneys taken or withheld by the Bank. 

Mr. Pike. Now let me read what were the provisions of the English 
law : " Up to this time exemption had been granted on incomes from 
realized property under sixty pounds a year. This was now, with few 
exceptions, repealed ; and entire exemption was limited to incomes 
under fifty pounds a year in the whole; while a graduated scale was 
imposed upon incomes between fifty pounds and one hundred and fifty 
pounds a year, but limited to profits derived from trades, professions, 
and offices. An official publication of the time explains the reasons for 
this alteration, as well as some others effected about the same period." 
The gentleman will see that I was entirely right, and he entirely wrong. 

It is manifestly a commentary, not the law, that the gentle- 
man reads. What is the date of the law to which the commen- 
tator refers? 

Mr. Pike. It is Pitt*s income law. 

What year? There are several of Pitt's laws, extending from 
1798 to 1 8 16. If the gentleman has found an income law 
passed in the early years of that period, when the banks did not 
collect any part of the tax, his citation is fatal to the position he 
is attempting to establish. 

Mr. Pike. This was the law for ten years. 

The gentleman is mistaken. I cannot yield further now. 

I proceed to notice another statement in the gentleman's 
printed speech. 

3. He asserts that the principal of the British debt is taxed, in 
so far as it consists of terminable annuities ; and cites as proof 
the eminent authority of Leon Levi. This statement is more 


likely to mislead than any other in his speech, for it is likely to 
convey the impression, by insinuation, that, while we refuse to 
tax the interest on our debt, the British government tax both the 
interest and principal of theirs. Now, I deny, in totOy that the 
capital of the British debt as such is taxed, or ever was taxed. 
Indeed, the gentleman does not assert, and I am sure he will not 
assert, that it is taxed as capital ; but the whole drift of his state- 
ment insinuates it. The only ground on which he bases his as- 
sertion is that a terminable annuity is a debt, a part of the capital 
of which is virtually refunded to the holder each year, in the 
form of interest ; and as the government taxes the proceeds of 
such annuities at the same rate as the proceeds of perpetual an- 
nuities are taxed, it virtually amounts to a tax on capital. 

Mr. Butler. Will the gentleman state again, if it will not be too 
much trouble to him, what is a terminable annuity, as he understands it ? 

It is a form of English indebtedness from which the holder 
receives annually, for a limited period, a larger sum than he 
would receive from a perpetual annuity, which brings him only 
three per cent. 

Mr. Butler. The same difference that there would be here between 
a three per cent bond and a six per cent bond. 

Not the same difference, for one terminates altogether in a 
given time, while the other is perpetual. And the argument 
which the gentleman attempts to make is this : that a part of 
the capital is returned to the holder in the annual payment, and 
therefore the capital is taxed. My reply is, that, strictly speak- 
ing, there is no capital at all in a terminable annuity. It is all 
income, and is taxed only as income. In support of this view 
I refer to a report published in 1861 by Mr. Robert Lowe, 
one of the ablest members of the House of Commons. That 
the tax on terminable annuities is one of the inequalities in the 
practical operation of the English law, no one will deny. For 
twenty years English statesmanship has been baffled in the at- 
tempt to remedy this defect* In 185 1 and 1852 a committee of 
the House of Commons sat for many months, and printed a 
thousand pages of evidence on the workings of the tax. An- 
other committee, in 1861, after a similar examination, reported 
a great mass of evidence. One of the chief objects of these in- 
vestigations was to devise a plan by which this very inequality 


might be obviated. But both commissions failed to agree upon 
any plan, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer frankly con- 
fessed that, with all the light thus thrown upon the subject, he 
saw no practicable method of curing the defect. Levi, whom 
the gentleman quotes, mentions the inequality of the tax when 
applied to the interest of terminable annuities, not to approve, 
but to denounce it; and he denounces it because, in effect, it 
approaches so nearly a tax on capital. But in fact and in law 
it is no more a tax on capital, than the tax which the States now 
levy on the shares of our national banks is a tax on the United 
States bonds, in which the capital of the banks is mainly invest- 
ed. The principle involved in both cases is precisely the same, 
and was clearly set forth by our Supreme Court in the case of 
Van Allen v. The Assessors,^ where it is held that a tax on the 
shares is not a tax on the capital of the bank ; that the shares, 
though based on bonds which cannot be taxed by municipal 
authority, are a species of property distinct from the bonds, 
having many functions and uses which the bonds have not. So 
with terminable annuities. Whatever elements may compose 
them, it is only when they assume the form of income that the 
tax applies to them. It is, therefore, not true, either in law or 
in fact, that the English government taxes the principal of its 

Before leaving this point, in order to show to what desper- 
ate straits the gentlemen are reduced in their effort to find a 
precedent for taxing the principal of our debt, I will state that 
only a small portion of the British debt is in terminable annui- 
ties. The commission of 1861 stated that the whole amount 
did not exceed ;f 10,000,000, while the British debt was nearly 
;f 790,000,000. 

4. The gentleman asserts that every holder of the British 
funds, whether citizen or foreigner, is taxed, and hence con- 
cludes that we ought to tax the foreign holders of our bonds. 
There is just enough truth in this statement to make it danger- 
ous. From 1798 to 1842 every income-tax law of England con- 
tained a clause specially exempting from taxation all income 
from public funds in the hands of foreigners. The law, as re- 
vived in 1842 by Sir Robert Peel, did not exempt foreigners from 
the operation of the law. In the debate on the bill, Peel said 
that all the tax which would be collected from foreign holders 

1 3 Wallace, 583, 584. 


would not amount to more than ten or twenty thousand pounds. 
England has long been a lender, not a borrower, of money; she 
has no foreign loan, and the taxation of income from the debt 
in the hands of foreigners is hardly a practical question with 
her. Among the many changes which have been made in the 
law since 1842, I have not been able to ascertain with certainty 
what the law now is; but I incline to the belief that foreign 
holders are no longer taxed. The income tax was thoroughly 
revised in 1853, and Mr. Gladstone, the author of the revised law 
and then Chancellor of the Exchequer, while speaking on this 
very subject at that time, said : — 

" It has been a popular doctrine to tax the foreigner, but I think that 
no person in this House would wish to tax the foreigner in this particu- 
lar form. It has been a long-contested question with respect to income 
tax in England, whether the foreigner is not entitled to exemption alto- 
gether. The late Sir Robert Peel subjected him to equal taxation in 
1842 ; but even that proposal was strongly resisted, and I think every 
member of this House will agree that it would be very impolitic to lay 
an exceptional tax of this kind upon the foreigner." ^ 

This shows that English statesmanship strongly condemns 
the policy. For us, a debtor nation, to adopt it, would be the 
extreme of folly. Though, as I have said, there are some 
doubts as to what the English law now is, yet there is a citizen 
of this city who has held English funds within the last year, 
and who states that he was exempted from the tax on furnish- 
ing evidence that he was not a British subject. 

But whatever the British law may be at the present time in 
regard to taxing foreigners, this will not be denied, — that when- 
ever the foreigner has been taxed under the income law, he has 
had the same benefits of exemptions and deductions as a British 
subject. Even under Peel's law, the foreigner was exempt when 
his income from British sources was less than one hundred and 
fifty pounds. This English practice bears no analogy to the 
scheme proposed by the gentleman from Maine. To quote it 
as an argument is to confess the weakness of his position. 

If the gentleman wishes to find precedents for taxing govern- 
ment bonds held by foreigners, I commend him to the examples 
of Austria and Italy, who have been compelled within the last 
two months to adopt this policy, but offer as their apology that 

1 Hansard's Parliamentary Debates, Vol. CXXV. pp. I377» ^378. 


they are on the verge of bankruptcy, and are compelled to 
choose between this step and complete financial ruin. These 
two kingdoms are now, for this act, ruined in credit and honor 
by the verdict of all civilized nations. Moreover, I commend 
to the gentleman his own speech, delivered in this House on 
the 17th of December last, in which he strongly opposes the 
taxation of foreign bondholders. 

In answer, therefore, to the gentleman's assertions, I affirm, — 

1st. That there is not now, and never has been, a law in Eng- 
land, levying a tax on the principal of the public debt. 

2d. That the interest on the British debt is not now, and 
never was, taxed, except when it takes the form and becomes a 
part of a taxable income. Whenever there has been no income 
tax, there has been no tax on the interest of the debt. When- 
ever there has been an income tax, the interest arising from the 
debt has been taxed at the same rate, and only the same, as the 
income from lands, hereditaments, trades, professions, salaries, 
pensions, and every other source, except from the occupation 
and farming of lands. 

3d. That all the rules of exemption which apply to other 
sources of income apply equally to income arising from the 
funds. In short, that the interest of the debt is not taxed at 
all as such, but only when it forms a part of an income amount- 
ing to more than one hundred or one hundred and fifty pounds, 
or whatever the amount exempted by law may be. 

4th. And, finally, that the scheme of the gentlemen from 
Maine, Massachusetts, and Indiana, which afterward, in sub- 
stance, passed the House as the Cobb resolution, is not within 
the English precedent, nor within any precedent approved by 
civilized nations ; but, if it becomes a law, will be a direct, pal- 
pable repudiation of $13,000,000 of the annual interest on our 
national debt, for the payment of which the faith of the nation 
has been pledged in the most solemn manner. 

The gentleman from Massachusetts in his speech last evening 
alleged that our bonds were bought at a great discount, and are 
now at a premium, and therefore the bondholder could not 
complain if he should be taxed higher than the holders of other 
property. I desire to remind the gentleman, that the English 
bonds were negotiated at a much greater discount than our own. 
A late English writer has shown that all the debt incurred from 
1793 to 1815 was negotiated at a loss of nearly forty-three per 


cent, and that for every ;f lOO of money received from loans 
during that period the debt was increased ;f 173. But* for one 
illustrious fact, Great Britain would have fallen half a century 
ago into the abyss of hopeless bankruptcy, of irretrievable finan- 
cial ruin ; but for one fact, her greatness and glory would now 
exist only in history. That fact is this: that while she has 
borne, for a hundred years, a greater burden of debt and taxa- 
tion than any other nation, she has kept her financial faith un- 
tarnished. This fact has enabled her, within the last fifty years, 
to reduce the total amount of her annual interest twenty-five 
per cent, while the principal of her debt has been reduced less 
than nine per cent. In 1817, her annual interest was almost 
thirty-four millions sterling. In 1866, it was less than twenty- 
six millions. She has been able to fund her debt again and 
again at a decreased rate of interest, and the records of Thread- 
needle Street show that the British three per cent consols have 
been, during the last half-century, the standard stock of the 
world. Though the British debt is nearly fifty per cent greater 
than ours, yet her annual interest in 1867 was ten per cent less. 
Now, Mr. Chairman, I have said all I desire to say in regard 
to the English precedent. Though the principles of political 
morality cannot be changed by any precedent, yet I admit that 
if the gentlemen had shown that the English tax law is framed 
on the principle expressed in the Cobb resolution, it would be 
a very formidable argument in defence of that measure. Their 
positive statements that it was so had a marked effect on the 
opinions of members of the House, and led them to assent to 
a proposition which I do not believe they will indorse after a 
full consideration. I rejoice, sir, that the Committee of Ways 
and Means have responded to the order of the House in a man- 
ner which discloses in full the character of the proposition which 
these gentlemen desire to incorporate in the law. Omitting the 
bill, this is the committee's report, as submitted, July 2d, by 
Mr. Hooper. 

" The Committee of Ways and Means, to whom was referred the reso- 
lution of the House instructing them to report without unnecessary delay 
a bill lev>'ing a tax of at least ten per cent on the interest of the bonds of 
the United States, to be collected by the Secretary of the Treasury, and 
such of his subordinates as maybe charged with the duty of paying the in- 
terest on the bonded debt of the United States, have had the same under 
consideration, and beg leave to submit the following report and bill. 


"The Committee of Ways and Means are opposed to the proposition 
embraced in this resolution, and report the bill only in obedience to the 
positive order of the House. 

" In the argument made in the House in favor of the resolution, the 
English income-tax law was referred to and quoted. There is a law 
corresponding to that law on the statute-books of this country, imposing a 
tax on incomes of five per cent, while the English law is less than three 
per cent. But your committee have been unable to find in the statute- 
books of England, or any other civilized country, a law that could be 
regarded in any way as a precedent for the bill the House have instruct- 
ed the committee to report, which, if enacted, will be simply a law pro- 
viding for the payment of a rate of interest on the government debt ten 
per cent less than was agreed for, ten per cent less than is stated in the 
bonds, and ten per cent less than was pledged to be paid by the solemn 
enactment of Congress, when the money was required to carry on a war 
which threatened the life of the nation. 

" The evil effects resulting to a nation, whether her national credit is 
guarded and protected, or whether by legislation of the character now 
proposed the confidence of all other civilized nations is forfeited, may 
not be felt or appreciated in time of peace j but the committee desire to 
call attention to the consequences that would follow the passage of a bill 
of the character now submitted, in case we should ever hereafter have 
occasion to use our credit for the purpose of providing means either to 
sustain ourselves at home or to defend ourselves in any collision with a 
foreign power, 

" The committee repeat, that in reporting the bill they act in obedi- 
ence to the positive directions of the House, and contrary to their own 
best judgment. They reserve to themselves their rights, as members of 
the House, to oppose in every possible way the adoption of a measure 
which they regard as hostile to the public interest and injurious to the 
national character." ^ 

The bill which the committee reported fully embodied the 
spirit of the resolution instructing them. 

The gentleman from Massachusetts, in his speech last even- 
ing, while criticising the report of the committee, charged them 
with going out of their way to discuss the British law. Fie said 
that the resolution sent to them was passed without debate, and 
under the previous question ; and he asked, " What business had 
they to talk about the English example and the results of it? 
Nobody raised that question." I will tell him why the com- 
mittee discussed the English law. When he and his Democratic 

* Congressional Globe, July 2, 186S, p. 36S9. 


friends were carrying through the measure for instructing the 
committee, although the previous question was pending, he 
made a speech consisting of one sentence, in which he declared 
that this was precisely the English method of taxing bonds. 

Mr. Butler. No, sir. 

That sentence I quoted from the Globe, in the first ten min- 
utes of my speech. 

Mr. Butler. The gentleman is not quoting it now. I said rate. 

To show that the gentleman is mistaken, I will read, if he will 
allow me, exactly what he said. I quote from the Globe of 
June 29, 1868: " Mr. Butler, of Massachusetts. The tax which 
the resolution proposes is the same that the English govern- 
ment imposes on its bonds." 

Mr. Butler. Is that fair? Read the question before it 

There is no question before it. I will read : — 

"Mr. Butler, of Massachusetts, and Mr. Pike called for the yeas 
and nays. 

" The yeas and nays were ordered. 

" Mr. Garfield. I would suggest that the tax on these bonds be made 
one hundred per cent. That will fill our Treasury still more rapidly. 

" Mr. Butler, of Massachusetts. The tax which the resolution pro- 
poses is the same that the English government imposes on its bonds." ^ 

Now, I ask any gentleman present if this sentence refers to 
the rate, and if it refers to the rate, is it true? If the explana- 
tion which the gentleman now gives of his remark be correct, 
then the remark itself is not true. He can take whichever horn 
of the dilemma he chooses. 

Mr. Butler. For a single moment In 1806, first five per cent, and 
then raised to ten per cent. 

Now, Mr. Chairman, that is a striking example of the gentle- 
man's own sense of fair argument. Since 1 8 16 there has been no 
ten per cent income tax on British funds, or any other income. 
In the war with Napoleon, a part of the time the tax was five 
per cent, and a part of the time it was ten per cent; but since 
that war it has never reached six per cent. It was less than six 
per cent in the Crimean war, when the tax was doubled. Yet 
the gentleman from Massachusetts says in the Globe, from 

1 Page 3589. 


which I have quoted, " The tax which the resolution proposes 
IS the same that the English government imposes on its bonds " ; 
not that they did impose on their bonds fifty years ago, but " the 
same the English government imposes on its bonds " now. I 
deny that the British government now imposes, or has imposed 
for half a century, a tax of ten per cent on the interest of its 
bonds ; and, as I have already said, the gentleman plainly de- 
clared that the Cobb resolution was in accordance with the 
English precedent, and that proposition I have utterly dis- 

I say again, after such a sentence as the gentleman uttered in 
the House, it was eminendy proper for the Committee of Ways 
and Means to refer to whatever instructions they had in the 
case, whether in the terms of the resolution itself, or in the 
remarks of those who advocated its passage. The committee 
brought in a report precisely in the spirit, and almost in the 
words of the resolution. They were ordered to bring in with- 
out delay a bill to levy a tax of ten per cent on the interest of 
the public bonds, and to require the Secretary of the Treasury 
and his subordinates to collect that tax. And the only argu- 
ment made in favor of the resolution at the time was the decla- 
ration of the gentleman from Massachusetts that it provided for 
taxing the interest on our bonds by the same method that the 
English government taxes theirs. They took their instruc- 
tions with the accompanying comment of the gentleman, and 
brought in a bill in strict accordance with their instructions: 
that hereafter, whenever the government of the United States 
pays interest, it shall withhold ten per cent; that, though it 
promised to pay six per cent, it shall pay but five and four 
tenths per cent; in short, that it will pay but ninety per cent 
of what was promised, any law, bond, or contract to the con- 
trary notwithstanding. The country will tliank the Committee 
of Ways and Means for the report with which they accompa- 
nied the bill, and I do not hesitate to declare that the proposi- 
tion sent to the committee — though I cannot believe that the 
House so understood it — was a direct and palpable order to 
repudiate ten per cent of the entire interest on our debt. We 
owe $i30/xx),ooo of interest annually, and the resolution de- 
clares that $13,000,000 of it we will refuse to pay. Mr. Chair- 
man, I will cordially co-operate with any gentlemen here in any 
honorable and proper effort to reduce the general burden of 


taxation ; but on no account and under no circumstances can I 
consent to such a measure as that resolution demands. 

Mr. Pike. Does the gentleman defend this remark of the Commit- 
tee of Ways and Means in their report? " In the argument made in the 
House in favor of the resolution, the English income-tax law was referred 
to and quoted. There is a law corresponding to that [English] law on 
die statute-books of this country, imposing a tax on incomes of five per 
cent, while the English law is less than three per cent." Does the gentle- 
man say that that is correct in fact, or in spirit, or in results ? I say it is 
not correct in fact, in mode of collection, or in results. It has not a kin- 
ship to correctness. 

Now, Mr. Chairman, I have not gone into the special calcula- 
tion made in the report of the committee, and am not responsi- 
ble for its correctness ; but according to my arithmetic, seven 
pence in the pound is less than three per cent. The Committee 
of Ways and Means take the same view, but the gentleman 
seems to think otherwise. 

Mr. Pike. The tax by the English law is deducted from the payment 
of interest at the time it is made. Schedule C yielded during the Cri- 
mean war the sum of about $9,000,000 in gold as a deduction from the 
amount of interest on the British debt ; whereas our income tax is not 
assessed on a very large portion of our debt, there being large exemp- 
tions by the law. The whole amount owned by the banks is expressly 
excluded by the law, and we do not collect, I venture to say, after exam- 
ination of the returns, Si, 000,000, probably not §500,000, whereas Great 
Britain collected, according to the returns, £1,795,718 during the Cri- 
mean war. It is absurd to say or intimate that our tax is larger than the 
English, and it will be recollected that the interest on the English debt 
upon which the tax is levied is about ten millions less than our interest. 

Of course I decline to go into the arithmetical arguments of 
the Committee of Ways and Means, as that is entirely aside 
from the subject I am discussing. But I have never before 
heard it denied that our income law is modelled after the Eng- 
lish law. I have shown that the Cobb resolution is not; and I 
say again, I am exceedingly glad that the Committee of Ways 
and Means have uncovered the not quite transparent humbug 
oCthat resolution, as I must be permitted to call it 

And now, sir, allow me to say that the gentleman from Mas- 
sachusetts endeavored last night, very adroitly, to change the 
proposition so as to make a new issue altogether. He said that 
the Committee of Ways and Means ought to have brought 



in an amendment to the income-tax law, to provide for with- 
holding at the treasury the amount of income-tax due on the 
interest arising from the bonds ; but instead of that they had 
brought in a bill having no reference to the income law, but 
levying the tax directly on the interest of the bonds. Now, sir, 
I take this as a confession that the Cobb resolution is not de- 
fensible, for I call the House to witness that not one of the gen- 
tlemen who spoke on the subject gave the least intimation that 
they were amending or offering a substitute for the income law. 
There was nothing in the resolution that had the least reference 
to the income tax. It was clearly a measure aside from, and 
independent of, the income law. The tax it contemplated would 
be in addition to the income tax. Now, I do not propose to 
allow this escape from the issue raised. The two propositions 
are totally unlike. So long as we tax the interest of the bonds 
as a part of the income of citizens, no man can justly find fault 
It is not a tax on the bonds, not even a tax on the interest as 
such, but only a tax on such part of the interest as takes the 
form, and becomes part, of a taxable income. So long as we 
place income from the bonds on the same basis with income 
from all other sources, and tax by a uniform rule, subjecting 
all incomes to the same deductions, exemptions, and limitations, 
we are not only within the English precedent, but we are on safe 
ground of constitutional right, where justice may be done to tax- 
payers, and the public credit will not suffer. 

Now, if the House thinks it best to double the income tax, let 
it be done. The holders of bonds cannot complain. Income 
from bonds should bear its equal proportion. The Constitution 
of the United States lays down two rules on the subject of taxa- 
tion, namely : a direct tax on property must be levied by ap- 
portionment; an indirect tax must be levied by the rule of 
uniformity. It will not be claimed that our income tax is a 
direct tax, — a tax on property ; for it plainly falls under the 
rule of uniformity. But the tax proposed by the Cobb resolu- 
tion is a tax on property, — a special, exceptional tax, liable to 
measureless abuse. Should the principle prevail, to what ex- 
treme may it not be carried ? It is now proposed to tax tjie 
interest of the bonds ten per cent. What will hinder the next 
Congress from making it twenty, forty, eighty, or any higher 
rate? Being exceptional, it would directly hurt none but the 
public creditors. But under the wise provisions of the Consti- 


tution, the rule of uniformity protects every class of citizens by 
making the protection of each the interest of all. 

The gentleman from Massachusetts was very energetic in his 
plea for equality of taxation, and quoted a passage from the Chi- 
cago platform on that subject, with the manifest purpose of mak- 
ing it apply to such a measure as he proposes. I suggest to the 
gentleman that he will find a much better text for his doctrines 
in the Democratic platform than he finds in ours. The language 
of Tammany Hall on this subject is explicit, and expresses in 
very vigorous terms the gentleman's ideas of taxation. Their 
fourth article is as follows : " Equal taxation of every species 
of property according to its real value, including government 
bonds and other public securities." This declaration must meet 
the hearty approval of the gentleman from Massachusetts. Ac- 
cording to this doctrine, the Democratic party are in favor of 
taxing equally all property, real and personal. Farms and 
bonds, wagons and billiard-tables, wheat and whiskey, bread and 
tobacco, all are to be subject to equal taxation, according to 
their real value ! Farms to bear no less rate than whiskey, po- 
tatoes no less than beer, corn no less than brandy, wheat no less 
than gin ! All are to be taken together according to this new 
Democratic doctrine, and subjected to a tax not levied as now, 
by uniform rule, on the annual value of the income arising from 
it, but as a direct tax on the actual value of the articles them- 
selves. This new definition of the meaning of equality ought to 
be entirely pleasing to the distinguished gentleman from Massa- 

The law declares the bonds exempt from taxation by all State 
and municipal authorities. Now, if this Democratic resolution 
means that the bonds are to be subjected to a direct property 
tax, it must mean State taxation ; and that not only is forbidden 
in the law that created the bonds, but, according to repeated de- 
cisions of the Supreme Court, is forbidden by the Constitution 
of the United States. If the resolution means that Congress 
ought to tax all farm and agricultural implements, all property 
real and personal, according to its real value, the absurdity is 
so apparent as to need no comment. The established rule that 
the States levy direct taxes, and Congress indirect, would be 
utterly broken down. 

Now, Mr. Chairman, allow me to suggest that there are two 
ways of managing taxation and the public debt. One is to strike 


vliicctly at the principal or interest of the bonds, and greatly 
iwliKo their value for the sake of adding a little to the revenue. 
I hat is the method of the gentleman from Massachusetts and 
hiji associates. For the sake of withholding $13,000,000 from 
the public creditors, they would depreciate the value of every 
I'niteU States bond in existence. The bonds have already 
fallen an average of one per cent since this resolution passed 
the House. 

Mh, l*iKK. Are they not to-day as high as they were before? 

No, sir; I have the quotation in to-day*s paper, and they are 
more than one cent lower than they were before that resolution 

Mr. Pike. In London? 

No, sir; here. If the country fully believed that this ruinous 
policy would become the law, the depreciation would be very 
jjreat. For every cent of depreciation, $21,000,000 is lost by 
our creditors, but not gained by us. The creditors lose the 
money, and the nation loses credit. And under the system of 
these gentlemen, what would be our condition when we find it 
necessary to negotiate a loan ? That necessity is now almost 
upon us, for we have a bill pending to fund $1,800,000,000 of 
our debt. Nobody expects that we can pay the debt as fast as 
it matures, but we shall be compelled to go into the market and 
negotiate new loans. Let this system of taxation be pursued; 
let another Congress put the tax at twenty per cent, another at 
forty per cent, and another at fifty per cent, or one hundred per 
cent; let the principle be once adopted, — the rate is only a 
question of discretion, — and where will you be able to nego- 
tiate a loan except at the most ruinous sacrifice? Let such 
legislation prevail as the gentleman urges, and can we look any 
man in the face and ask him to loan us money? If we do not 
keep faith to-day, how can we expect to be trusted hereafter? 

I have said there are two methods of managing debt and tax- 
ation. One I have just been considering. The other is advo- 
cated, not by the gentleman from Massachusetts, nor in the 
Democratic platform, but in the platform adopted at Chicago, 
in which it is declared that — 

" We denounce all forms of repudiation as a national crime ; and the 
national honor requires the payment of the public indebtedness, in the 
uttermost good faith, to all creditors at home and abroad, not only ac- 


cording to the letter, but the spirit, of the laws under which it was con- 

" It is due to the labor of the nation that taxation should be equal- 
ized, and reduced as rapidly as the national faith will permit. 

" The national debt, contracted as it has been for the preservation of 
the Union for all time to come, should be extended over a fair period 
for redemption ; and it is the duty of Congress to reduce the rate of 
interest thereon whenever it can be honestly done. 

" That the best policy to diminish our burden of debt is to so improve 
our credit that capitalists will seek to loan us money at lower rates of 
interest than we now pay, and must continue to pay so long as repudia- 
tion, partial or total, open or covert, is threatened or suspected." 

I quote these declarations with feelings of pride and satisfac- 
tion. I am proud of that great party which, having saved the life 
of the nation by its valor, now declares its unalterable purpose 
to save, by its truth and devotion, what is still more precious, 
the faith and honor of the nation. There was a declaration 
made by an old English gentleman in the days of Charles II. 
which does honor to human nature. He said he was willing 
at any time to give his life for the good of his country ; but he 
would not do a mean thing to save his country from ruin. So, 
sir, ought a citizen to feel in regard to our financial affairs. The 
people of the United States can afford to make any sacrifice for 
their country, and the history of the last war has proved their 
willingness; but the humblest citizen cannot aff*ord to do a 
mean or dishonorable thing to save even this glorious republic. 
For my own part, I will consent to no act of dishonor. And I 
look upon this proposition — though I cannot think the gcn- 
tieman meant it to be so — as having in itself the very essence 
of dishonor. I shall, therefore, to the utmost of my ability re- 
sist it. 

Suppose that the credit of the United States were as good as 
the credit of Massachusetts. Only a few months ago that State 
negotiated a loan in London on terms so favorable as to put to 
shame our attempts at funding our debt. During the whole 
war, her credit has been far better than ours. And how stand 
her old five per cent bonds to-day? I hold in my hand the 
London Economist of a month ago, and I find the Massachu- 
setts five per cent bonds quoted at 89 and 90, while the ten- 
forty gold-bearing five per cent United States bonds are 68^ ; a 
difference of twenty-one cents on the dollar. And why this great 



difference? Massachusetts has not only kept faith through all 
the trials of the war, but she has not sought technical grounds 
on which to escape from her obligations. She might have 
lightened the burden of her debt, as many other States did, 
by paying her interest in currency instead of in coin, under 
the protection of the legal-tender act. But she paid every debt 
in accordance with the letter and spirit of the contract. Her 
bonds exhibit the result. If the credit of the United States 
were as good as that of Massachusetts, we could fund our whole 
debt at $400,ooo,ocx) less cost to the nation than we can fund it 
on our own credit. This example fully illustrates the two lines 
of financial policy. 

Mr. Speaker, I desire to say, in conclusion, that, in my opin- 
ion, all these efforts to pursue a doubtful and unusual, if not dis- 
honorable policy, in reference to our public debt, spring from a 
lack of faith in the intelligence and conscience of the American 
people. Hardly an hour passes when we do not hear it whis- 
pered that some such policy as this must be adopted, or the 
people will by and by repudiate the debt. For my own part, I 
do not share that distrust. The people of this country have 
shown, by the highest proofs which human nature can give, that 
wherever the path of honor and duty may lead, however steep 
and rugged it may be, they are ready to walk in it. They feel 
the burden of the public debt, but they remember that it is the 
price of blood, — the precious blood of half a million brave men, 
who died to save to us all that makes life desirable or property 
secure. I believe they will, after a full hearing, discard all 
methods of paying their debts by sleight of hand, or by any 
scheme which crooked wisdom may devise. If public morality 
did not protest against any such plan, enlightened public selfish- 
ness would refuse its sanction. Let us be true to our trust a 
few years longer, and the next generation will be here with its 
seventy-five millions of population, and its sixty billions of 
wealth. To them the debt that then remains will be a light 
burden. They will pay the last bond according to the letter 
and spirit of the contract, with the same sense of grateful duty 
with which they will pay the pensions of the few surviving sol- 
diers of the great war for the Union, 


At different times Mr. Garfield gave full expression to his views touch- 
ing all forms of the bond-taxing proposition. He opposed taxing bonds 
already issued, whether in American or in foreign hands, as inexpedient 
and contrary to the contract. He insisted that bonds should not be 
exemptec\ from the operation of the incdme tax. He held that to issue 
new bonds subject to taxation would be useless, since what was received 
from the bondholder in taxes would be paid back to him in interest. He 
held that the States could not tax the bonds without the consent of the 
United States, and this consent the United States, even if disposed, couP 
not legally give. The legal argument on this point he stated thus, in the 
House of Representatives, July 17, 1868. 

Mr. Speaker, — I desire to say a word on the pending 
amendment, for the purpose of putting on record the opinions 
of one of the very ablest lawyers who ever lived in this coun- 
try on the question of the right of Congress to authorize a State 
to tax the bonds of the United States. I had occasion, two 
years ago, in a speech on this subject, to quote this passage 
from Mr. Webster. But before quoting it, I wish to state the 
authorities upon this subject. 

I take it that no lawyer in this House who has examined the 
authorities will assert that any State can, of its own right, tax 
the bonds of the United States. But the question has been 
raised whether Congress may not confer upon a State the right 
to tax them. I particularly desire to call attention on that ques- 
tion to the authorities to which I refer. 

First, let me state in brief the decisions of the Supreme Court 
to the effect that a State has not the right to tax the bonds of 
the United States. It was decided by Chief Justice Marshall, 
in 18 19, in the case of McCulloch v. The State of Maryland 
et aiy It was decided again by that same distinguished jurist 
in the case of Weston et al, v. The City Council of Charleston.* 
It was decided in the case of Osborn et al, v. The Bank of the 
United States,^ in 1824, when Henry Clay, as counsel, argued 
other features of the cause before the court, but declined to offer 
any argument on the question of the power of the State to tax 
the bank, and alleged as a reason that the point was so well set- 
tled that argument was unnecessary. It was decided again in 
1862, in the case of The Bank of Commerce v. New York City; * 
and still later, in the case of Van Allen v. The Assessors.* 

» 4 Whcaton, 316. « 2 Peters, 449. • 9 Wheaton, 738. 

* 3 Black, 620. * 3 Wallace, 573. 

VOL. L 23 


Now in regard to the power of Congress to authorize a 
State to tax the bonds of the United States, I ask the Clerk to 
read a passage from a speech of Daniel Webster on the very 
question under discussion. The speech was delivered in the 
Senate of the United States, May 28, 1832. The question was 
on an amendment oJfTered by Mr. Moore, of Alabama, propos- 
ing, first, that the Bank of the United States should not estab- 
lish or continue any office of discount, or deposit, or branch 
bank, in any State, without the consent and approbation of the 
State; second, that all such offices and branches should be 
subject to taxation according to the amount of their loans and 
issues, in like manner as other banks or other property should 
be liable to taxation. 

'' Now, sir, I doubt exceedingly our power to adopt this amendment, 
and I pray the deliberate consideration of the Senate in regard to this 

'' In the first place, let me ask, What is the constitutional ground on 
which Congress created this corporation, and on which we now propose 
to continue it? There is no express authority to create a bank, or any 
other corporation, given to us by the Constitution. The power is derived 
by implication. It has been exercised, and can be exercised, only on the 
ground of a just necessity. It is to be maintained, if at all, on the alle- 
gation that the establishment of a national bank is a just and necessary 
means for carrying on the government, and executing the powers con- 
ferred on Congress by the Constitution. On this ground Congress has 
established this bank, and on this it is now proposed to be continued. 
And it has already been judicially decided that, Congress having estab- 
lished a bank for these purposes, the Constitution of the United States 
prohibits the States from taxing it. Observe, sir, it is the Constitution, 
not the law^ which lays this prohibition on the States. The charter of 
the Bank does not declare that the State shall not tax it. It says not 
one word on that subject. The restraint is imposed, not by Congress, 
but by a higher authority, the Constitution. 

" Now, sir, I ask how we can relieve the States from this constitutional 
prohibition. It is true that this prohibition is not imposed in express 
terms, but it results from the general provisions of the Constitution, and 
has been judicially decided to exist in full force. This is a protection, 
then, which the Constitution of the United States, by its own force, holds 
over this institution, which Congress has deemed necessary to be created 
in order to carry on the government, so soon as Congress, exercising its 
own judgment, has chosen to create it. Can we throw off from this gov- 
emment this constitutional protection? I think it clear we cannot We 


cannot repeal the Constitution. We cannot say that every power, every 
branchy every institution, and every law of this government, shall not have 
all the force, all the sanction, and all the protection, which the Constitu- 
tion gives it" * 

Such was the opinion of the great " Defender of the Consti- 
tution." He believed that the power of a State to tax the se- 
curities of the United States is prohibited by a higher authority 
than a statute of Congress ; that it is prohibited by the Con- 
stitution itself. I have made the quotation to show that Mr. 
Webster did not believe that Congress could constitutionally 
delegate to the States the authority to tax the securities of the 
United States. 

1 Works of Daniel Webster, Vol. III. pp. 409, 41a 



REPRESENTATIVES, July zy, 1868. 

MR. SPEAKER, — I will first ask the Clerk to read some 
remarks made by the gentleman from Pennsylvania 
on Friday, the 17th instant, so that the statements to which I 
desire to reply may be recalled to the recollection of members. 
He was speaking of the payment of the five-twenty bonds. 

The Clerk read as follows : — 

" Mr. Stevens of Pennsylvania. I want to say that if this loan was to 
be paid according to the intimation of the gentleman from Illinois,* — if I 
knew that any party in the country would go for paying in coin that 
which is payable in money, thus enhancing it one half, — if I knew there 
was such a platform and such a determination this day on the part of any 
party, I would vote for the other side, Frank Blair and all. I would vote 
for no such swindle upon the taxpayers of this country ; I would vote 
for no such speculation in favor of the large bondholders, the million- 
naires, who took advantage of our folly in granting them coin payment of 
interest. And I declare — well, it is hard to say it — but if even Frank 
Blair stood upon the platform of paying the bonds according to the con- 
tract, and the Republican candidates stood upon the platform of paying 
bloated speculators twice the amount which we agreed to pay them, then 
I would vote for Frank Blair, even if a worse man than Seymoiur headed 
the ticket. That is all I want to say." * 

A few days afterward I expressed my surprise at these state- 
ments of the gentleman from Pennsylvania, and referred to the 
fact that, in the debate of 1862, on the passage of the bill author- 
izing the five-twenty bonds, the gentleman distinctly declared 
that these bonds were payable in gold, and that such was the 

1 Mr. Ross. s Congressional Globe, July 17, 186S, p. 4178. 


unanimous opinion and intention of Congress at that time. 
Yesterday the gentleman read from manuscript the following : — 

" Mr. Stevens of Pennsylvania, rising to a personal explanation, said : 
I desire to say a few words relating to what I observe reported in the 
Globe of the remarks of General Garfield and others with regard to what 
I said in debate on the passage of the five-twenty bill. I find that it is 
all taken firom the report of Secretary McCuUoch, which I had never read. 
I am therefore firee to presume that what those gentlemen quoted, rather 
than said, is a total perversion of the truth. Had it not been introduced 
from so respectable a quarter in this House, it would not be too harsh, as 
there presented, to call it an absolute falsehood. I do not know that I 
should have taken any notice of what the various papers are repeating, some 
of them half Rebel, some half Secession, and more of them, I suppose, 
in the pay of the bondholders. I shall not now undertake to explain 
the whole of this matter, as I am too feeble ; but I shall take occasion 
hereafter to expose the villany of those who charge me with having said, 
on the passage of the five-twenty bill, that its bonds were payable in coin. 
The whole debate from which they quote, and all my remarks which they 
cited, were made upon an entirely different bill, as might be seen by ob- 
serving that I speak only of the payment of gold after twenty years, when 
the bill I was speaking of, as well as all other liabilities, were payable in 
coin, as no one doubted the resumption of specie payments. My speech 
was made upon the introduction of the legal-tender bill, on which the 
interest for twenty years was to be paid in currency. No question of 
paying the interest in gold arose till some time after, when the bill had 
been passed by the House, sent to the Senate, returned, and went to a 
committee of conference, when, for the first time, the gold-bearing ques- 
tion was introduced ; and yet all that these wise and truthful gentlemen 
have quoted from me took place in debate some weeks before the gold 
question, either principal or interest, had arisen in the House. I only 
now wish to caution the public against putting faith in the fabrications 
of demagogues and usurers, and they will find that every word which I 
have asserted with regard to myself is true to the letter.*' ^ 

Now, Mr. Speaker, I can permit no such denial of the truth 
of my statement, and particularly no such personal attack, to go 
unchallenged. I therefore appeal to the records. 

On the 22d of January, 1862, Hon E. G. Spaulding, of 
New York, from the Committee of Ways and Means, reported 
House Bill No. 240, — a bill to authorize the issue of United 
States notes, and for the redemption or funding thereof, and 
for funding the floating debt of the United States. It con- 

^ Congressional Globe, July 22, 1868, p. 4335- 


sisted of three sections. The first authorized the issue of 
$100,000,000 legal-tender notes; the second authorized the issue 
of $500,000,000 six per cent twenty-year bonds, with which 
to fund the legal-tender notes, and other floating debt of the 
United Statesf j^ the third was mainly administrative (see copy of 
original biU, G\k^, Vol. XLVI. p. 522). This bill, with but few 
important change^,' became the act of February 25, 1862. On 
t% day of its introduction it was printed, and made the spe- 
cial order for January 28, when a searching debate on its pro- 
visions began, and continued with an interruption of but one 
legislative day to and including the 6th of February. 

The gentleman from Pennsylvania took no active part in the 
debate until the day of its passage, when, after general debate 
on the bill in Committee of the Whole was closed by order 
of the House, Hon. E. G. Spaulding yielded to Mr. Stevens 
most of the hour to which he was entitled, and then the gen- 
tleman made a vigorous and incisive speech, as he always did, 
attacking the several substitutes that had been ojffered, and 
defending the bill of the Committee of Ways and Means. One 
substitute had been oJffered by Mr. Vallandigham, of Ohio; 
another, by Mr. Roscoe Conkling, of New York ; another, by 
Mr. Morrill, of Vermont ; and another, by Mr. Horton, of Ohio, 
which embraced the leading features of all the others, and was 
finally selected as the one to be voted on in opposition to the 
bill of the committee. This substitute did not make United 
States notes a legal tender for private debts, and this was the 
chief issue between the advocates and opponents of the bill of 
the committee. 

A large part of the speech of the gentleman from Pennsyl- 
vania was devoted to the defence of the legal-tender clause of 
the bill. He held that without the legal-tender provision the 
notes would depreciate ; with it, they would remain at par. He 
quoted a long passage from the English writer, McCulloch, to 
show that paper money which is a legal tender will always 
be at par as long as the amount issued is not in excess of the 
wants of the country. At that point a question was asked him 
by Mr. Thomas, of Massachusetts. I quote the following : — 

'' Mr. Thomas. I desire to ask the gentleman a question in connection 
with that passage. McCulloch laid down the doctrine, that the paper is 
limited to the amount necessary for currency. Let me ask the gentle- 
man from Pennsylvania whether he now expects, in managing these 



financial matters, to limit the amount of these notes to $150,000,000. 
Is that his expectation ? 

'' Mr. Stephens. It is. I expect that is the maximum amount to be 

Mr. Thomas. You do not expect to call for any more ? 

Mr. Stevens. No, sir ; I do not" ^ 

The gentleman then proceeded to show that these legal-tender 
notes would soon be used to buy the bonds authorized in the 
second section, and that the bonds would be a good investment 
He said : — 

" This money would soon lodge in large quantities with the capitalists 
and banks, who must take them [the notes]. But the instinct of gain — 
perhaps I may call it avarice — would not allow them to keep it long un- 
productive. A dollar in a miser's safe unproductive is a sore disturbance. 
Where could they invest it? In United States loans, at six per cent, 
redeemable in gold in twenty years, — the best and most valuable per- 
manent investment that could be desired. The government would thus 
again possess such notes in exchange for bonds, and again reissue them. 
I have no doubt that thus the $500,000,000 of bonds authorized would 
be absorbed in less time than would be needed by government, and thus 
$150,000,000 would do the work of $500,000,000 of bonds. 

" When further loans were wanted, you need only authorize the sale 
of more bonds. The same $150,000,000 of notes would be ready to 
take them." ^ 

A little further on he said : — 

" Gentiemen are clamorous in favor of those who have debts due 
them, lest the debtor should the more easily pay his debt. I do not 
much sympathize with such importunate money-lenders. But widows 
and orphans are interested, and in tears lest their estates should be 
badly invested. I pity no one who lias his money invested in United 
States bonds, payable in gold in twenty years, with interest semi- 

He then proceeded to review the several substitutes, stating 
first the plan of the committee. I quote from the same 
page : — 

" Let me restate the various projects. Ours proposes United States 
notes, secured at the end of twenty years to be paid in coin, and the 
interest raised by taxation semiannually ; such notes to be money, and 
of uniform value throughout the Union. No better investment, in my 

1 Congressional Globe, February 6, 1862. p. 688. ^ Ibid., p. 688. 


judgment, can be had. No better currency can be invented 

The proposition of the gentleman from New York ^ authorizes the issu- 
ing of seven per cent bonds, payable in thirty-one years, to be sold 
($250,000,000 of it) or exchanged for the currency of the banks of 
Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. 

" Sir, this proposition seems to me to lack every element of wise legis- 
kition. Make a loan payable in irredeemable currency, and pay that in 
its depreciated condition to our contractors, soldiers, and creditors gen- 
erally I The banks would issue unlimited amounts of what would become 
trash, and buy good hard-money bonds of the nation. Was there ever 
such a temptation to swindle ? " 

On the following page, and near the end of his speech, he 
says : — 

'' Here, then, in a few words, lies your choice. Throw bonds at six 
or seven per cent on the market between this and December, enough to 
raise at least $600,000,000, .... or issue United States notes, not re- 
deemable in coin, but fundable in specie-paying bonds at twenty years." 

In a few moments after the conclusion of this speech the 
House voted to reject the substitute of Mr. Horton, and adopted 
the bill advocated by Mr. Stevens. It was sent to the Senate, 
and but few important amendments were made, the chief of 
which was that the legal-tender clause should not apply to 
duties on imports, but that they should be paid in coin, and the 
coin should be applied to payment of the interest on the bonds, 
and to the reduction of the principal of the debt. No change 
was made in the bill which in any manner affected the question 
of the payment of the principal of the bonds. On the 14th of 
February the bill came back to the House, and was made a 
special order for February 19, when it was again debated, some 
of the amendments adopted, and some rejected ; and after sub- 
mitting the differences between the two houses to a conference 
committee it was passed, February 25, and on the following day 
became a law by receiving the approval of the President. 

I have carefully gone over all the proceedings, as recorded 
in the Globe and in the Journal of the House, and I have not 
found an intimation made, directly or indirectly, by any member, 
that it was ever dreamed the principal of these bonds could be 
paid in anything but gold. On the contrary, all who did refer 
to the subject spoke in the most positive terms that, as a matter 
of course, they were payable in gold. 

^ Mr. Conkling. 


Mr. Spaulding, of New York, said : " They intend to foot all 
the bills, and ultimately pay the whole amount, principal and 
interest, in gold and silver.'' ^ 

Mr. Pomeroy, who is now a member of the House, said: 
" The credit of the government is alike bound for the payment 
of both classes of indebtedness ultimately in gold. Each de- 
rives its entire value from that." ' 

Mr. Pike, of Maine, now a member of the House, said : " With 
all due deference to the gentlemen who differ with me on this 
subject, it does seem to me that this matter of the payment of 
the interest in coin is a controversy about goats' wool. The 
interest will be paid in coin in any event." * 

Now, Mr. Speaker, I have proved from the record the cor- 
rectness of every declaration I made in reference to the opinion 
of Congress at the time of the passage of the five-twenty bill, 
and particularly the opinion of the gentleman from Pennsylvania. 
This might seem sufHcient, but I wish to carry the investigation 
a step further. 

About one year later, when the House was debating the bill 
for issuing what are now known as ten-forty bonds, the gentle- 
man from Pennsylvania, who had offered an amendment to make 
the interest payable in paper, held the following colloquy with 
Mr. Horton, of Ohio : — 

" Mr. Stevens. It would be fair, I suppose, to state that my amend- 
ment proposes to pay for these bonds at the end of ten years in coin, 
but to pay the interest in currency, while the bill of the Committee of 
Ways and Means proposes to redeem the bonds in currency. 

" Mr. Horton. I cannot state what the gentleman asks me to state, 
because, according to my view, it is not correct. The bill of the Com- 
mittee of Ways and Means does not contemplate paying in paper. 

" Mr. Stevens. Will the gentleman allow me to ask him a question? 

" Mr. Horton. Certainly. 

" Mr. Stevens. Are not the bonds payable * in lawful money,' what- 
ever that is ? 

" Mr. Horton. No, sir. 

" Mr. Stevens. Then the Committee of Ways and Means and I do 
not agree as to its meaning. 

" Mr. Horton. I speak only for myself, and I appeal to the bill. 
The policy of the bill is to pay the interest in coin, and to collect the 
imposts in coin, and to redeem the bonds in twenty years in coin." * 

1 Congressional Globe, Feb. 19, 1862, p. 88a. « Ibid., p. 885. 

« Ibid, p. 887. « Ibid, Jan. 19, 1863, p. 388. 


So far as I can learn, this was the first word ever spoken in 
Congress suggesting the possibility of paying these bonds in 
anything but coin. 

Now, notice the effect of this suggestion. On the following 
day, January 20, while the same bill was pending, Mr. Thomas, 
of Massachusetts, moved to amend by inserting the words " in 
coin " in the first section. Mr. Morrill, of Vermont, moved to 
add the words " and buUion." Then the following discussion 
took place : — 

" Mr. Horton. I am opposed to the amendment of the gentleman 
from Vermont, which is to include bullion with gold in the payment of 
these bonds ; and am in favor of the amendment of the gentleman from 
Massachusetts, to make them payable in gold. I wish to say here that 
the Committee of Ways and Means, in framing this bill, never dreamed 
that these twenty-year bonds were to be payable in anything other than 
gold, until the gentleman from Pennsylvania told it yesterday upon the 
floor of the House. 

" Mr. Stevens. I do not like to refer to what occurred in committee, 
but I ask the gentieman from Vermont whether he did not state that he 
expected they would be paid in legal money ? 

'' Mr. Horton. I say to the gendeman and to this committee that I 
never heard an expression by any member of the Committee of Ways 
and Means of the possibility that these bonds were to be payable in any- 
thing other than coin. The form here proposed is the form always used 
by the government in the issue of these bonds, and they have always 
been paid in coin up to this day; even as late as the 31st of Decem- 
ber the bonds then coming due were paid in coin, in accordance with the 
uniform established practice of the government. 

" Mr. Stevens. I ought to say that I am informed by the gentieman 
from Vermont that he did not make the remark in the committee which 
I just attributed to him. I so understood him. 

" Mr. Horton. I know nothing of any such remark." * 

The amendment of Mr. Thomas was then adopted without 

Thus, Mr. Speaker, I have shown that when the original five- 
twenty bond bill passed the House, in 1862, all who referred to 
the subject stated that the principal of those bonds was payable 
in gold ; that the gentleman from Pennsylvania so stated five 
distinct times, and no member suggested anything to the con- 
trary; that when, in 1863, that gentleman raised a doubt on the 

^ Congressional Globe, January 20, 1863, p. 412. 


subject, he was promptly met by the statement of a leading 
member of the Committee of Ways and Means that he never 
before heard such a suggestion, and nobody on the Committee 
of Ways and Means dreamed of the possibility of paying them 
in anything but coin ; and finally, from abundant caution, and 
because of the doubt thus raised, the words " in coin " were 
inserted in the law authorizing the ten-forty bonds, and, so far 
as the record shows, no other member, either in 1862 or in 
1863, shared the gentleman's doubt. Let it be remembered 
that I have not discussed the language of the law, but only its 
history, and the construction placed upon it by those who made 
it at the time they made it.